Mozilla DevCenter
oreilly.comSafari Books Online.Conferences.
advertisement

Sponsored Developer Resources

Atom 1.0 Feed RSS 1.0 Feed RSS 2.0 Feed

Related O'Reilly Books





What Is Firefox What Is Firefox
Brian King provides a brief look at Firefox's origins and evolution, and then dives into its support for web standards like CSS and XML, its debugging and extension capabilities, and some cool new features in the upcoming 1.5 release. If you're considering a switch to Firefox, this article may help make the decision for you.


Mozilla as a Development Platform: An Interview with Axel Hecht  Axel Hecht is a member of Mozilla Europe's board of directors, and a major contributor to the Mozilla project. At O'Reilly's European Open Source Convention (October 17-20), Dr. Hecht will be talking about Mozilla as a development platform. O'Reilly Network interviewed Dr. Hecht to find out if the long-held dream of Mozilla as a development platform was about to come true.   [O'Reilly Network]

A Firefox Glossary  Brian King, with some help from Nigel McFarlane, covers everything from about:config to "zool" in this fun, fact-filled Firefox glossary. It's by no means exhaustive, but you'll find references to specific chapters or hacks throughout the glossary to Nigel's book, Firefox Hacks. When you're ready to dig deeper, check out his book.   [O'Reilly Network]

Important Notice for Mozilla DevCenter Readers About O'Reilly RSS and Atom Feeds  O'Reilly Media, Inc. is rolling out a new syndication mechanism that provides greater control over the content we publish online. Here's information to help you update your existing RSS and Atom feeds to O'Reilly content.  [Mozilla DevCenter]

Hacking Firefox  This excerpt from Firefox Hacks shows you how to use overlays (essentially hunks of UI data) to make something you want to appear in the Firefox default application, perhaps to carry out a particular function of your extension. For example, you might want to add a menu item to the Tools menu to launch your extension. Overlays allow existing Firefox GUIs to be enhanced.   [O'Reilly Network]

Mozile: What You See is What You Edit  Most modern browsers don't allow you to hit "edit" and manipulate content as easily as you view it, WYSIWYG-style. Mozile, which stands for Mozilla Inline Editor, is a new Mozilla plug-in for in-browser editing. This article by Conor Dowling provides an overview of Mozile and what in-browser editing means.
  [ Mozilla DevCenter]

The Future of Mozilla Application Development  Recently, mozilla.org announced a major update to its development roadmap. Some of the changes in the new document represent a fundamental shift in the direction and goals of the Mozilla community. In this article, David Boswell and Brian King analyze the new roadmap, and demonstrate how to convert an existing XPFE-based application into an application that uses the new XUL toolkit. David and Brian are the authors of O'Reilly's Creating Applications with Mozilla.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

Remote Application Development with Mozilla, Part 2  In their first article, Brian King, coauthor of Creating Applications with Mozilla, and Myk Melez looked at the benefits of remote application development using Mozilla technologies such as XUL and web services support. In this article, they present a case study of one such application, the Mozilla Amazon Browser, a tool for searching Amazon's catalogs.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

Remote Application Development with Mozilla  This article explores the uses for remote XUL (loaded from a Web server), contrasts its capabilities with those of local XUL (installed on a user's computer), explains how to deploy remote XUL, and gives examples of existing applications.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

Mozdev.org Made Easy  Now that mozilla.org is about to release Mozilla 1.2 and Netscape has come out with the latest version of their own Mozilla-based browser, Netscape 7, this is a great time to see what other people are building with Mozilla's cross-platform development framework. Here's a little history about, and a roadmap to, mozdev.org.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

XML Transformations with CSS and DOM  Mozilla permits XML to be rendered in the browser with CSS and manipulated with DOM. If you're already familiar with CSS and DOM, you're more than halfway to achieving XML transformations in Mozilla. This article demonstrates how to render XML in the browser with a minimum of CSS and JavaScript.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

Roll Your Own Browser  Here's a look at using the Mozilla toolkit to customize, or even create your own browser.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

Let One Hundred Browsers Bloom  In this article, David Boswell, coauthor of Creating Applications with Mozilla surveys some of the more interesting, and useful, Mozilla-based browsers available now.   [Mozilla DevCenter]

Using the Mozilla SOAP API  With the release of Mozilla 1.0, the world now has a browser that supports SOAP natively. This article shows you how Web applications running in Mozilla can now make SOAP calls directly from the client without requiring a browser refresh or additional calls to the server.   [Web Development DevCenter]





Today's News
July 30, 2014

James Long: Blog Rebuild: A Fresh Start

About two years ago I wanted to start blogging more seriously, focusing on in-depth tech articles and tutorials. Since then I've successfully made several posts like the one about games and another about react.js.

I decided to write my own blog from scratch to provide a better blogging experience, and it has served me well. I didn't want something big and complicated to maintain like Wordpress, and I had used static generators before but in my opinion you sacrifice a lot, and there's too much friction for writing and updating posts.

Back then I wanted to learn more about node.js, redis, and a few other things. So I wrote a basic redis-backed node.js blogging engine. In a few months (working here and there), I had a site with all the basic blog pages, a markdown editor with live preview, autosaving, unpublished drafts, tags, and some basic layout options. Here is the current ugly editor:

Redis is an in-memory data store, and node handles multiple connections well by default, so my simple site scales really well. I've have posts reach #1 on hacker news with ~750 visitors at the same time for hours (reaching about 60,000 views) with no problem at all. It may also help that my linode instance has 8 cores and I load up 4 instances of node to serve the site.

You may wonder why I don't just use something like ghost, a modern blogging platform already written in node. I tried ghost for a while but it's early software, includes complex features like multiple users which I don't need, and most importantly it was too difficult to implement my ideas. This is the kind of thing where I really want my site to be my code; it's my area to play, my grand experiment. For me, it's been working out really well (check out all of my posts).

But the cracks are showing. The code is JavaScript as I wrote it 2 years ago: ugly callbacks, poor modularity, no tests, random jQuery blobs to make the frontend work, and more. The site is stable and writing blog posts works, but implementing new features is pretty much out of the question. Since this is my site and I can do whatever I want, I'm going to commit the cardinal sin and rewrite it from scratch.

I've learned a ton over the past two years, and I'm really excited to try out some new techniques. I have a lot of the infrastructure set up already, which uses the following software:

  • react — for building user interfaces seamlessly between client/server
  • react-router — advanced route handling for react components
  • js-csp — CSP-style channels for async communication
  • mori — persistent data structures
  • gulp — node build system
  • webpack — front-end module bundler
  • sweet.js — macros
  • es6-macros — several ES6 features as macros
  • regenerator — compile generators to ES5

Check out the new version of the site at new.jlongster.com. You can see my progress there (right now it's just a glimpse of the current site). I will put it up on github soon.

I thought it would also be interesting to blog throughout the development process. I'm using some really interesting libraries in ways that are very new, so I'm eager to dump my thoughts quite often. You can expect a post a week, explaining what I worked on and how I'm using a library in a certain way. It will touch on everything such as build systems and cross-compiling, testing, front-end structuring. Others might learn something new as well.

Next time, I'll talk about build systems and cross-compiling infrastructure. See you then!

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Bogomil Shopov: Capture screenshots and annotate web sites in your Firefox

Usersnap’s visual communication addon was just approved by the addon team and now we have a “green button”. Hooray!

This is a “must have” addon for every web developer who wants to solve problems with web sites faster and who wants to earn more money by shortening the communication time with the client or inside the team.

Collect ideas and share them with your team

  • Capture and annotate every website.
  • Share and discuss it with your team.
  • Communicate visually and save time.

Annotate screenshots and integrate like a pro

  • Sticky notes, a pen, the pixel ruler and more help you express yourself visually.
  • Integrate Usersnap in your existing workflow and connect it to one of our supported third party tools.

Capture screens in all environments

  • Works on every site, including localhost.
  • Works behind firewalls.
  • Works on your password-protected staging and QA servers.

Every developer will get access and  to the  Usersnap Dashboard where he/she can:

  • Discuss mockups and sketches. Annotate them and push them back to a bug tracking system
  • See advanced client-side JavaScript errors and XHR Logs and browse them.
  • Access extended Information about the user’s session: OS, browser version, screen and browser size and installed plugins

 

Click here to install it (no restart needed)

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Pete Moore: Weekly review 2014-07-30

Highlights from this week

  • Migrated stuff away from aki’s account for vcs sync (both vcs sync machines and people account for mapfiles)
  • Reviewed roll out of l10n with hwine; I discovered a bunch of issues with current production l10n branches that Hal is reviewing and will communicate with partners about, before cut-over
  • Set up weekly meetings with hwine for discussing all vcs sync / repo related issues (etherpad meeting notes)
  • Created patch for esr31 branch vcs sync, awaiting review
  • Started work on unit tests for vcs sync
  • Now testing gecko-git locally - hope to provide patch to Hal this week
  • Rather a lot of interrupts this week:
    • Windows try issues due to ash activity (patch created)
    • Windows builder issues
    • Legacy mapper timeouts (patch created)
    • Naughty slaves (terminated)
    • Updating wiki docs, puppet code etc re: scl1 death
    • Code reviews for Callek, Ben

Goals for next week:

Bugs I created this week:

Other bugs I updated this week:

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Kevin Ngo: Angular, Require, Grunt? React, Browserify, Gulp.

The JS world moves quickly. New web tools are adopted faster than new Spidermans (men?) are produced. One second, it's AngularJS/RequireJS/Grunt. The next, it's React/Browserify/Gulp. Who knows, by tomorrow we could have some new shiny thing called McRib/Modulus/Chug. But the new workflows that come along never fail to keep development interesting and never fail to make our lives easier. Kay, it's time to freshen up. Let us answer: what is so streets-ahead about these new web technologies?

AngularJS/RequireJS/Grunt may be aging, but what does aging mean? I don't mean becoming obsolete. They're still fantastic tools that won't be going away any time soon. It just means these new technologies are becoming more ubiquitous and favored in modern projects by the community. A brief intro:

  • AngularJS is a JS framework from Google that features two-way data binding with an expressive and declarative templating. I previously wrote a multi-part guide to AngularJS.
  • RequireJS is a JS module loader that manages dependencies. Very rough idea would be like throwing in library imports into JS.
  • Grunt is a JS task runner. A common use is the automation of builds of frontend codebases (i.e., JS minification, bundling, CSS pre-compilation). Very rough idea would be like a JS Makefile.

With these getting their swagger jacked, we'll explore what the new kids on the block are kicking around.

Why React?

React is a JS framework from Facebook that also features two-way data binding. I can't really act as a super authority on React yet, but this comparison on Quora makes React focus more on modularity, less opinionated, with less code.

Though I do know some Angular. I can say the documentation isn't hot, it has a the learning curve consequently steepens, and it could use less boilerplate code.

The author of the post above says "if you like Angular, we think you'll love React because reactive updates are so easy and composable components are a simple and powerful abstraction for large and small applications."

Why Browserify?

To pull in a third-party dependency in RequireJS, one must venture out into the internet and curl/wget/download/whatever the file into their project. Then they can required. Any deisred updates will have to be refetched manually Repeat this with multiple dependencies for multiple projects, and it becomes a nuisance. Having to optimize RequireJS projects in another step is rotten cherry on top.

Browserify piggybacks npm. Dependencies such as jQuery, Underscore.js, React, AngularJS with Browserify support can be hosted on npm, specified and listed all in package.json, and Browserify will handle the bundling of these dependencies with your source code into a single file for you! Browserify even creates a dependency tree to figure out which modules need and not need to be included in the bundle. Smart lad.

Why Gulp?

Gulp consist more of code whereas Grunt are structured more towards configuration. It can be a matter of preference, though many are starting to Gulp. Gulp makes pipelines, or streams, a prominent feature such that intermediary data or files are not needed.

Grunt is well-fleshed with its hundreds of plugins from the community. However, Gulp is getting there. In the short dip I've taken, Gulp had all the plugins I needed. Either way, you'll be well supported.

Here's my project's gulpfile. It uses reactify to precompile React JSX files into normal JS files which is then pipelined to browserify for bundling with dependencies. It compiles Stylus files to CSS. And everything's nicely set up to watch directories and rebuild when needed. I'm pretty giddy.

var gulp = require('gulp');

var browserify = require('browserify');
var del = require('del');
var reactify = require('reactify');
var source = require('vinyl-source-stream');
var stylus = require('gulp-stylus');

var paths = {
    css: ['src/css/**/*.styl'],
    index_js: ['./src/js/index.jsx'],
    js: ['src/js/*.js'],
};

gulp.task('clean', function(cb) {
    del(['build'], cb);
});

gulp.task('css', ['clean'], function() {
    return gulp.src(paths.css)
        .pipe(stylus())
        .pipe(gulp.dest('./src/css'));
});

gulp.task('js', ['clean'], function() {
    // Browserify/bundle the JS.
    browserify(paths.index_js)
        .transform(reactify)
        .bundle()
        .pipe(source('bundle.js'))
        .pipe(gulp.dest('./src/'));
});

// Rerun the task when a file changes
gulp.task('watch', function() {
    gulp.watch(paths.css, ['css']);
    gulp.watch(paths.js, ['js']);
});

// The default task (called when you run `gulp` from cli)
gulp.task('default', ['watch', 'css', 'js']);

It's finally nice to get outside. Away from the codebase of work. Into the virtual world. Smell the aromas of fresh technologies. I've grown two years younger, and with an extra kick in my step. Expect more about React.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Karl Dubost: Reducing your bandwidth bill by customizing 404 responses.

In this post, you will learn on how to improve and reduce the bandwidth cost for both the user and the server owner. But first we need to understand a bit the issue (but in case you know all about it, you can jump to the tips at the end of the blog post).

Well-Known Location Doom Empire

Starting a long time ago, in 1994, because of a spidering program behaving badly, robots.txt was introduced and quickly adopted by WebCrawler, Lycos and other search engines at the time. Now, Web clients had the possibility to first inspect the robots.txt at the root of the Web site and to not index the section of the Web sites which declared "not welcome" to Web spiders. This file was put at the root of the Web site, http://example.org/robots.txt. It is called a "Well known location" resource. It means that the HTTP client is expecting to find something at that address when doing a HTTP GET.

Since then many of these resources have been created unfortunately. The issues is that it imposes on server owners certain names they might have want to use for something else. Let's say, as a Web site owner, I decide to create a Web page /contact at the root of my Web site. One day, a powerful company decides that it would be cool if everyone had a /contact with a dedicated format. I then become forced to adjust my own URI space to not create conflict with this new de facto popular practice. We usually say that it is cluttering the Web site namespace.

What are the other common resources which have been created since robots.txt?

  • 1994 /robots.txt
  • 1999 /favicon.ico
  • 2002 /w3c/p3p.xml
  • 2005 /sitemap.xml
  • 2008 /crossdomain.xml
  • 2008 /apple-touch-icon.png, /apple-touch-icon-precomposed.png
  • 2011 /humans.txt

Note that in the future if you would like to create a knew well-known resource, RFC 5785 (Defining Well-Known Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs)) has been proposed specifically for addressing this issue.

Bandwidth Waste

In terms of bandwidth, why could it be an issue? These are files which are most of the time requested by autonomous Web clients. When an HTTP client requests a resource which is not available on the HTTP server, it will send back a 404 response. These response can be very simple light text or a full HTML page with a lot of code.

Google evaluated that the waste of bandwidth generated by missing apple-touch-icon on mobile was 3% to 4%. This means that the server is sending bits on the wire which are useless (cost for the site owner) and the same for the client receiving them (cost for the mobile owner).

It's there a way to fix that? Maybe.

Let's Hack Around It

So what about instead of having the burden to specify every resources in place for each clients, we could send a very light 404 answer targeted to the Web clients that are requesting the resources we do not have on our own server.

Let's say for the purpose of the demo, that only favicon and robots are available on your Web site. We need then to send a specialized light 404 for the rest of the possible resources.

Apache

With Apache, we can use the Location directive. This must be defined in the server configuration file httpd.conf or the virtual host configuration file. It can not be defined in .htaccess.

<VirtualHost *:80>
    DocumentRoot "/somewhere/over/the/rainbow"
    ServerName example.org
    <Directory "/somewhere/over/the/rainbow">
        # Here some options
        # And your common 404 file
        ErrorDocument 404 /fancy-404.html
    </Directory>
    # your customized errors
    #<Location /robots.txt>
    #    ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    #</Location>
    #<Location /favicon.ico>
    #    ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    #</Location>
    <Location /humans.txt>
        ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    </Location>
    <Location /crossdomain.xml>
        ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    </Location>
    <Location /w3c/p3p.xml>
        ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    </Location>
    <Location /apple-touch-icon.png>
        ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    </Location>
    <Location /apple-touch-icon-precomposed.png>
        ErrorDocument 404 /plain-404.txt
    </Location>
</VirtualHost>

Here I put in comments the robots.txt and the favicon.ico but you can adjust to your own needs and send errors or not to specific requests.

The plain-404.txt is a very simple text file with just NOT FOUND inside and the fancy-404.html is an html file helping humans to understand what is happening and invite them to find their way on the site. The result is quite cool.

For a classical mistake, let say requesting http://example.org/foba6365djh, we receive the html error.

GET /foba6365djh HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org

HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found
Content-Length: 1926
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:30:33 GMT
ETag: "f7660-786-4e55273ef8a80;4ff4eb6306700"
Last-Modified: Sun, 01 Sep 2013 13:30:02 GMT

<!DOCTYPE html>
…

And then for a request to let say http://crossdomain.xml/foba6365djh, we get the plain light error message.

GET /crossdomain.xml HTTP/1.1
Host: example.org

HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found
Content-Length: 9
Content-Type: text/plain
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:29:11 GMT

NOT FOUND

nginx

It is probably possible to do it for nginx too. Be my guest, I'll link your post from here.

Otsukare.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Zack Weinberg: 2014 Hugo Awards ballot

I’m not attending the Worldcon, but I most certainly am voting the Hugos this year, and moreover I am publishing my ballot with one-paragraph reviews of everything I voted on. If you care about this sort of thing you probably already know why. If you don’t, the short version is: Some of the works nominated this year allegedly only made the shortlist because of bloc voting by Larry Correia’s fans, he having published a slate of recommendations.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with publishing a slate of recommendations—don’t we all tell our friends to read the stuff we love? In this case, though, the slate came with a bunch of political bloviation attached, and one of the recommended works was written by “Vox Day,” who is such a horrible person that even your common or garden variety Internet asshole backs slowly away from him, but nonetheless he has a posse of devoted fanboys and sock puppets. A frank exchange of views ensued; be glad you missed it, and I hope the reviews are useful to you anyway. If you want more detail, Far Beyond Reality has a link roundup.

I value characterization, sociological plausibility, and big ideas, in that order. I often appreciate ambitious and/or experimental stylistic choices. I don’t mind an absence of plot or conflict; if everyone involved is having a good time exploring the vast enigmatic construction, nothing bad happens, and it’s all about the mystery, that’s just fine by me. However, if I find that I don’t care what happens to these people, no amount of plot or concept will compensate. In the context of the Hugos, I am also giving a lot of weight to novelty. There is a lot of stuff in this year’s ballot that has been done already, and in several cases, the prior art was much better. For similar reasons, volume N of a series has to be really good to make up for being volume N.

With two exceptions (both movies I didn’t get around to) I at least tried to read/watch everything mentioned below, and where I didn’t finish something, that is clearly indicated. This is strictly my personal strategy for this sort of thing and I am not putting it forward as right or wrong for anyone else.

Links go to the full text of the nominated work where possible, a Goodreads or IMDB page otherwise.

Note to other Hugo voters: I’m making pretty heavy use of No Award. If you mean to do the same, make sure you understand the correct way to use it:

If you want to vote No Award over something, put No Award at the end of your ballot and DO NOT list the things you’re voting No Award over.

The ballot below (unlike the ballot I submitted) includes line items below No Award, so that I have a space to explain my reasons.

Best Novel

  1. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

    Let’s get one thing out of the way first: this book features the Roman Empire (with aspects of Persia and China and probably a couple others I missed), IN SPACE! That was out of fashion for quite some time, and rightly so, on account of having been done to death. However, it has been long enough that a genuinely fresh take is acceptable, if done well, and I happen to think this was done very well. It does not glorify conquest, but neither does it paint the conquerors a uniform shade of Evil; it depicts a multitude of cultures (more than one on the same planet, even!); it has realistic-given-the-setting stakes and conflicts of interest, and believable characters both human and otherwise. I might not have chosen to tell the story out of temporal sequence; one does spend an awfully long time wondering why the protagonist’s goals are as they are. But I see why Leckie did it the way she did it.

    Nearly every review of this novel talks about the thing where the protagonist’s native language doesn’t make gender distinctions and so e is always picking the wrong casemarkers, pronouns, etc. when speaking languages that do. I kinda wish they wouldn’t focus so much on that, because it is just one aspect of a larger problem the protagonist has: e didn’t used to be a human being and is, over the course of the novel, having to learn how to be one. E doesn’t know how to handle eir ‘irrational’ attachment to Lieutenant Seivarden either, and eir problem-solving strategies start out much more appropriate to the entity e used to be and progressively become suited to eir current state. It is also neither the most unusual nor the most interesting thing about Radchaai culture. I don’t believe I have ever before seen Space Romans with a state religion, a system of clientage, or a plot driven by a political quandary that the real Romans (as far as I understand) actually had.

  2. Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross

    This reminds me of The Witches of Karres, in a good way. Distant-future setting, check. Packed to the gills with ideas, check. Self-contained storyline, check. Extraordinarily high stakes, check. Hardly anyone has any idea what’s going on, but they don’t let that stop them, check. It’s technically a sequel, but it might as well be a standalone novel, which is fortunate, because I bounced off Saturn’s Children really quite hard—the protagonist here is more congenial company, and the society depicted, more plausible. The plot is fundamentally a MacGuffin hunt, but played in a novel and entertaining manner.

    Strictly in terms of the story, this is neck and neck with Ancillary Justice, but it falls short on writing technique. There was a great deal of infodumpage, paired with excessive showing of work—at one point the first-person narrator actually says “I am now going to bore you to death with $TOPIC.” I like geeking out about political economy, but not at the expense of the narrative. (Continuing with the comparison to The Witches of Karres, Schmitz was much better at giving the reader just barely enough detail.) The ending is almost Stephensonian in its abruptness, and a little too pat—it sounded good at the time, but half an hour later I found myself unconvinced that the MacGuffin would have its stated consequences. Finally, there’s an irritating and frequent stylistic quirk, in which multi-clause sentences are, incorrectly, punctuated with colons instead of semicolons.

  3. Parasite, Mira Grant

    You know how the movie studios sometimes do A/B testing to decide which of several different edits of a movie to release as the finished product? I want to do that with this book. Specifically, I want to find out whether or not it’d be a better book if there weren’t page-length quotations from in-universe documents at the beginning of each chapter. These documents make it much clearer what is actually going on, which is a good thing in that the reader might be completely lost without them, and a bad thing in that the reader can (as I did) figure out exactly where the plot is going by the end of chapter 2.

    It’s reasonably well written, modulo some clumsy infodumpage in the middle, and it is a credible attempt to write a stock type of thriller novel (exactly which type would be a spoiler) without making the science completely laughable. Bonus points for actually being familiar with the geography, traffic headaches, and cultural diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. However, it is, in the end, a stock type of thriller novel, and may not appeal if you don’t already like that sort of thing. (If you get to the end of chapter 2 and find yourself thinking “ugh, this is clearly going to be about X” … yeah, you can go ahead and put the book down.)

  4. No Award

  5. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

    The rules need to be changed so that completed gargantua-series are their own category, or perhaps some sort of special award, considering there might or might not be any completed gargantua-series in any given year. I’d be showing up at the business meeting with a revision proposal if I were attending the Worldcon.

    Perennial latecomer to cultural phenomena that I am, I didn’t even notice that these novels existed until there were about seven of them, at which point the consensus on USENET (yeah, it was that long ago) seemed to be that they were not terribly inventive and the plot had ceased to make forward progress. So I didn’t bother picking them up. The Hugo voters’ packet contains the entire thing in one giant e-book file. I am on the last leg of a long plane flight as I type this, and I have just finished the first 8% of that e-book, i.e. The Eye of the World. I enjoyed it well enough, as it happens, and will probably continue reading the series as further long plane flights, sick days, and similar present themselves. If I don’t get too fed up with the plot failing to make forward progress, I may even finish it someday.

    However, based on that volume plus the aforementioned USENET commentary and what I’ve heard from other people since, it is not Hugo quality, for three reasons. First and foremost, as I was told so long ago, it is not at all inventive. The setting is exactly what was being skewered by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Worse, the plot of the first novel is Campbell’s monomyth, verbatim. (Well, the first few stages of it.) It escapes “Extruded Fantasy Product” territory only by virtue of having a whole bunch of characters who, at this point anyway, are all three-dimensional people with plausible motivations and most of whom are entertaining to watch. Second, I don’t have a lot of patience for whiny teenagers who spend much of the book refusing the call to adventure, distrusting the adults who actually know what’s going on, or both simultaneously. Yes, they’ve spent all their lives hearing stories starring the Aes Sedai as villains, but c’mon, Moiraine repeatedly saves everyone’s life at great personal cost, it could maybe occur to you that there might’ve been a bit of a smear campaign going on? Third, Jordan’s tendency to pad the plot is already evident in this one volume. It did not need to be 950 pages long.

  6. Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia

    Noir-flavored urban fantasy, set in an alternate 1930s USA where people started developing superpowers (of the comic book variety) in roughly 1880. I would love to read a good detective noir with superheroes and/or fairy tale magic. This, however, is yet another jingoistic retread of the Pacific theater of the Second World War, shifted into the middle of the Great Depression, with The Good Guys (USA! USA! with superheroes) versus The Bad Guys (Imperial Japan circa 1934—an excellent choice if you like your Bad Guys utterly evil, I’ll admit—with supervillains) and a secret society trying to emulate Charles Xavier and failing at it because they’re too busy arguing and scheming. I almost gave up fifty pages into volume I because no sympathetic protagonists had yet appeared. Fortunately, someone whose story I was interested in did appear shortly thereafter, but it was still pretty slim pickings all the way to the end. This is not a case of bad characterization; it’s that most of the characters are unpleasant, petty, self-absorbed, and incapable of empathizing with people who don’t share their circumstances. Additional demerits for setting the story in the Great Depression, and then making nearly everyone we’re supposed to like, wealthy.

    Ironically, one of the most sympathetic characters in the entire trilogy is the leader of Imperial Japan (known almost exclusively as The Chairman)—I think this was because Correia knew he needed a villain who wasn’t cut from purest cardboard, but it didn’t occur to him that he needed to put as much work into his heroes. And by the same token, it did not occur to him that he had failed to convincingly refute his villain’s philosophy: if your villain espouses the rule of the strongest, and is then defeated by superior technology, intellect, and strength of will, that in itself only demonstrates that force of arms is weaker than those things.

    Regarding Larry Correia’s recommendation slate, all I care to say is that his taste in writing by others reflects the flaws in his own writing.

Best Novella

  1. Wakulla Springs, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages

    Apart from a few unexplained-and-might-not-even-have-happened phenomena near the very end, this could be historical fiction with no speculative elements. Wakulla Springs is a real place and they really did film Tarzan and The Creature from the Black Lagoon there, and they really did turn various animals loose in the Florida swamps when they were done. However, if you squint at it a different way, it’s a fairy tale moved to the twentieth century, not any specific fairy tale but the bones of them all, with movie stars standing in for kings and princes, and rubber-suit monsters standing in for, well, monsters. And the characters are all just fun to be around.

  2. Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente

    This is overtly a fairy tale, specifically Snow White, moved to the nineteenth-century Wild West and shook up in a blender with the style and the form of the stories of Coyote. The first half of it is compelling, and the third quarter works okay, but the conclusion is disappointing. The problem is that if you’re going to retell Snow White, either you have to stick with love conquering all in the end (and you have to set that up proper), or you have to jump the tracks before Snow White eats the poison apple. And if you’re going to set Snow White up as a mythic hero after the fashion of Coyote, maybe you should give her at least some of Coyote’s miraculous ability to get back out of trouble? Valente deliberately avoided doing any of those things and so painted herself into a corner.

    Having said that, I’m still giving this the #2 slot because I really like the concept, and it only fails by not executing successfully on its grand ambitions, which is a thing I am prepared to cut an author some slack for.

  3. Equoid, Charles Stross

    Marvelously creepy cryptozoological meditation on unicorns, their life cycle and role in the ecosystem, and why they must be exterminated. In the Laundry Files continuity, and does not stand alone terribly well. Also, stay away if you dislike body horror.

  4. No Award

  5. The Chaplain’s Legacy, Brad Torgersen

    Remember what I said above about things that have been done already? This is a retread of Enemy Mine, breaking no new ground itself. Characterization is flat and style pedestrian. Not so boring as to make me put it down in the middle, and thankfully didn’t go for the cheap moral that I thought it would, but on the whole, disappointing.

  6. The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells

    An extended character study of an antihero of the most boring, clichéd, and overdone type: mistreated due to his size and strength, doubly mistreated due to his uncanny abilities, learns from betrayal to take everything personally, believes the only thing he’s good at is killing people, and in his secret heart, just wants to be loved. Overflowing with manpain. Told out of chronological order for no apparent reason, causing the ending to make no sense. Vaguely folktale-Russia setting (with steampunk and magic) that a better writer could have done something interesting with; I am given to understand that this is in fact the WARMACHINE tabletop wargaming setting. I do not object to tie-in fiction, but neither will I cut it any slack on that account. For instance, the Butcher himself is an official WARMACHINE character; I don’t know if Wells invented him or just got tapped to flesh out his backstory; regardless, I do not consider that a valid excuse for any of the above.

Best Novelette

  1. The Waiting Stars, Aliette de Bodard

    This one is difficult to describe without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that it’s a clash-of-cultures story, set in the extremely far future, and I liked how the two cultures are both somewhat sympathetic despite valuing very different things and being legitimately horrified by the other’s practices. The ending may be laying it on a little too thick, but I don’t know that it can be toned down without spoiling the effect.

  2. The Lady Astronaut of Mars, Mary Robinette Kowal

    Elma, the titular Lady Astronaut, was on the first manned expedition to Mars; that was thirty-odd years ago, and she is now semi-retired, living on Mars, and torn between getting back into space and taking care of her husband, who is dying. Apart from the setting, this could be mainstream literary fiction, and a type of mainstream literary fiction that, as a rule, rubs me entirely the wrong way. This one, however, I liked. The characters all seem genuine, and the setting throws the central question of the plot into sharp relief, forcing us to take it more seriously than we might otherwise have.

  3. The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling, Ted Chiang

    Philosophical musing on the nature of memory and how technological aids change that. This used to be a professional interest of mine, but I didn’t think Chiang did all that much with it here. Told in two intertwined narratives, of which the story of the Tiv is more compelling, or perhaps it is just that the first-person narrator of the other half is kind of a blowhard.

  4. No Award

  5. The Exchange Officers, Brad Torgersen

    Near future plausible geopolitical conflict in low Earth orbit, POV first person smartass grunt-on-the-front-line. Entertaining, but neither memorable nor innovative.

  6. Opera Vita Aeterna, Vox Day

    This isn’t a story; it’s an object lesson in why publishers reject 95–99% of the slush pile. The prose is uniformly, tediously purple, and nearly all of it is spent on description of rooms, traditions, and illuminated manuscripts. The characters haven’t even got one dimension. Nothing happens for the first two-thirds of the text, and then everyone in the monastery (it takes place in a monastery) is, without any warning, murdered, cut to epilogue. To the extent I can tell what the author thought the plot was, it could be summarized in a paragraph without losing anything important, and it would then need a bunch of new material added to make it into a story.

    I’ve seen several other people say that this is bad but not terrible, comparing it positively to The Eye of Argon, and I want to explicitly disagree with that. If I may quote Sarah Avery, The Eye of Argon has characters; in the course of the story, something happens; several somethings, even, with some detectable instances of cause and effect; and it has a beginning, a middle, and (in some versions of the text) an end. It’s clichéd, sure, and and crammed full of basic grammar and vocabulary errors, and that’s what makes it bad in a hilarious and memorable way. Opera Vita Aeterna, by contrast, is bad in a boring and forgettable way, which is worse.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this is only on the ballot because it was included in Correia’s recommendations and then bloc-voted onto the shortlist by Day’s fanboys. To them I say: if you did not realize it was unworthy, you should be ashamed of yourself for being so undiscerning; if you knew it was unworthy and you nominated it anyway, you have committed a sin against Apollo, and may you live to regret it.

Best Short Story

These are all good enough that rank-ordering them is hard; I’d be happy to see any of them win. They are also all floating somewhere around the magical realism attractor, which is not what I would have expected.

  1. The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere, John Chu

    Tell a lie, even a white lie, or even fail to admit the truth, and water falls on you from nowhere; this just started happening one day—otherwise this is a story of ordinary people and their troubles and their connections to each other, and the magic is used to explore those things. Very elegant in its use of language; bonus points for making use of the ways in which Chinese (Mandarin, specifically, I think) describes family relationships differently than English does. Emotionally fraught, but satisfying.

  2. Selkie Stories Are for Losers, Sofia Samatar

    I always did wonder what happened to the children after the selkie went back to the ocean. Not so much the husband. The husband got what was coming to him, which is the point of the selkie story itself; but the daughter, who usually is the one to find the skin that the husband’s kept locked in the attic or wherever; she didn’t have it coming, did she?

    A kind storyteller might have it be that the daughter goes down to the ocean every Thursday afternoon, while the husband is out fishing, and her mother comes up from the waves and they have tea. Sofia Samatar is not a kind storyteller.

  3. The Ink Readers of Doi Saket, Thomas Olde Heuvel

    Based on a real Thai festival, Loi Krathong; in the story, the paper boats that are floated down the river contain wishes for the new year. The villagers of Doi Saket consider it their duty to collect the wishes and send them onward to Buddha in paper lanterns … and some of them, somehow, come true. Is it the intervention of the river goddess? Is it all just coincidence? Is it a scam to line the pockets of the village chief? It’s hard to tell. You will reach the end of this story not being sure what happened, and you will reread it and still not be completely sure. But it’s a fun read anyway.

  4. If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love, Rachel Swirsky

    A very, very old theme, here, but a take on it that would have been impossible not so long ago. I’m not sure it’s a story, though. More of a love poem. Or a curse poem. Bit of both, really. Still, it’s going to haunt me.

Best Graphic Story

  1. Time, Randall Munroe

    Back in 2005 I doubt anyone would have guessed that the new nerd-joke webcomic on the block, xkcd, would still be around in 2013 (over a thousand strips later), let alone that it would run a 3101-panel epic starring two stick figure people who are building sandcastles on the beach … really elaborate sandcastles … meanwhile discussing why the ocean level seems to be rising up … and then setting off in search of the source of the river, since presumably that’s where the extra water is coming from … and it just keeps elaborating from there. It was presented in an inconvenient format (the link goes to a more accessible compilation), but it’s got everything one could want in an SFnal epic: engaging characters (it’s amazing how much characterization Munroe can pack into pithy dialogue among stick figures), a carefully thought-out setting, the joy of discovery, the thrill of the unknown, a suitably huge problem to be solved, and, of course, Science!

  2. Saga, Volume 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

    A love story against the backdrop of an endless galaxy-shattering war, sung in the key of gonzo, and influenced by the best bits of everything from Métal Hurlant to Tank Girl to Tenchi Muyo! It’s hard to tell where it’s going; what we have so far could be summarized as “Romeo and Juliet IN SPACE! Neither of them is a teenage idiot, they’re determined to survive, and their respective sides are coming after them with as much dakka as they can scrape together on short notice.” The A-plot may not even have appeared onstage at this point. One thing’s for sure, though: Vaughan and Staples mean to put on one hell of a show. For a more in-depth description I refer you to io9’s review.

    Strictly in terms of the content, I could just as easily have placed this in the #1 slot. “Time” gets the nod because Saga is not quite as novel, because the subplot with The Will and The Stalk seemed icky and gratuitous, and because volume 1 won this category last year.

  3. Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright

    I love Girl Genius, but it’s won this category three times already (in a row, yet!) and this volume, while continuing to be quality material, is nonetheless more of the same.

  4. No Award

  5. The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton

    What if the Doctor fell through a crack in time and landed in this universe, where he is a fictional character? Not a new conceit, but one with legs, and I think you could build a fine Doctor Who episode around it; unfortunately, this is not that. It is too heavy on the self-referential and meta-referential, to the point where I think it only makes sense if you are familiar with the show and its fandom. The story is rushed so that they can pack in more in-jokes, and the coda takes a turn for the glurge.

  6. Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden

    I think this was meant to be a deconstruction of the notion that for everyone there is a perfect romantic partner out there somewhere, just one, and all you have to do is find them and your life will be perfect forever. Which is a notion that could use some deconstructing. Unfortunately, between the male gaze, the embrace of the equally-in-need-of-deconstruction notion that men cannot comprehend women, the relentlessly grim future backdrop, and the absence of plausible character motivations, what you get is not deconstruction but enforcement by inversion: The only thing that can fix a man’s shitty life is the perfect romantic partner, but he will never find her, so he should just give up and embrace the hollow inside. (Gendered words in previous sentence are intentional.) I regret having finished this.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  1. Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón

    This is probably as close as you can get to the ideal golden age hard-SF Protagonist versus Pitilessly Inhospitable Environment story in movie format. (I have actually seen this abstract plot done with precise conformance to the laws of orbital mechanics: Lifeboat, by James White. But storytelling suffered for it.) There are places where they go for the cheap wrench at your heart, but then there are places where they don’t do the obvious and clichéd thing, and this movie isn’t really about the plot, anyway, it’s about the spectacle. Clearly groundbreaking in terms of cinematography, also; I look forward to future use of the technology they developed. For more, please go read my friend Leonard’s review, as he is better at critiquing movies than I am.

  2. Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro

    It’s a giant monster movie, but it’s a really well thought through and executed giant monster movie. (Except for the utterly nonsensical notion of building a wall around the entire Pacific Ocean, which let us pretend never happened.) And I like that the scientists save the day by doing actual experimental science. Bonus points for not going grimdark or ironic or anything like that. Yes, earnest movies in which there was never any real doubt that the good guys would win were worn out in the 80s and 90s. But bleak movies in which there aren’t any good guys to begin with, and nothing ever really changes, certainly not for the better, are worn out here in the 2010s. Further bonus points for a close personal relationship between a man and a woman which does not turn into a romance.

  3. Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black

    Marvel continues to crank out superhero movies which do interesting things with established characters. (I particularly liked, in this one, that Potts gets her own independent source of superpowers and does not require rescuing, and that Stark is forced to work out his overprotectiveness issues on his own time.) However, in the end, it is another superhero movie with established characters. I said to someone on a convention panel back in 2001 that I wished Marvel and DC would allow their superheroes to come to the end of their stories, and I still feel that way.

  4. (my official vote for this category ended at this point)

  5. Frozen, screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

    I didn’t get around to seeing this; I’m sure it’s another respectable installment in the field of Disneyified fairy tale, but I can’t really imagine its breaking new ground.

  6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence

    I didn’t get around to seeing this either, and I’m frankly more than a little burnt out on YA dystopia.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

I have to abstain from this category, because I watch TV shows ages after everyone else does; I imagine I’ll get to current Doctor Who episodes (for instance) sometime in 2024.

Best Related Work

I wanted to vote this category, but I have run out of time to read things, so I have to skip it as well.

Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Editor, Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Writer

And these categories, I have no idea how to evaluate.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Several of the qualifying works in this category are head and shoulders above everything that was nominated in the regular categories! I will definitely be looking out for more writing by Samatar and Gladstone, and maybe also Sriduangkaew.

  1. Sofia Samatar (A Stranger in Olondria)

    A form I haven’t seen attempted in some time: the travelogue of a fantastic land. In this case, Olondria is a great city, perhaps the greatest in the world, filled with merchants, priests, and books, and the traveler/narrator is a humble farmer from the islands in the south, come to Olondria to sell his peppers, as his father did before him. Well, that’s what everyone back at home expects him to do, anyway. In truth he has fallen in love with the literature of Olondria and, through the books, the city itself, and never had all that much interest in the family business to begin with. And then the plot catches up with him: there are two sects of those priests, and both wish to use him to advance their own interests: for you see, he is haunted by the ghost of a woman of his own people, whom he barely knew, but whom he was kind to in her last illness…

    This has got everything one could possibly want in a work of SF and everything one could possibly want in a work of capital-L literature; the form is elegant and fitted precisely to the content; the characters are engaging, the narrative flows smoothly, one does not want to put it down. As I mentioned above, Sofia Samatar is not a kind storyteller; this book is painful to read in places. But, having completed it, you will not regret the journey.

  2. Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise)

    Alternate-Earth (and you have to pay close attention to realize that it is Earth) fantasy. All gods are real, but many of them are dead; the wizards (excuse me, “Craftsmen”) made war on them and slew them, claiming their power in the name of humanity. That was some hundred years ago, and the world is still finding a new equilibrium. Each of these books shows a different piece of that, with very little overlap. Plotwise they are both mysteries, of the ‘investigation of a small incident leads to something bigger … much bigger …’ type, which I liked; it allows the stakes to be appropriately high while avoiding all of the overused quest fantasy tropes. And it works well for showing the readers lots of little details that illustrate how this is not the world we know. Gladstone is also excellent at characterization; even the NPCs who are only onstage in a scene or two feel fully realized.

    The only complaints I have are that the way the magic works kinda squicks me out a little (this may have been intentional) and that the ending of Two Serpents Rise didn’t quite work for me (in a way which would be too spoilery to explain here).

  3. Benjanun Sriduangkaew (“Fade to Gold”; “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade”; “The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly”)

    These are short stories. “Fade to Gold” is a variation on a Southeast Asian folktale, starring two people trapped by their natures and the demands of society; creepy, sorrowful, tragic. The other two are far-future magical-realist meditations on the nature of family, loyalty, and history in a setting where everyone’s memory is remotely editable. All are good, but the far-future ones may not be to everyone’s taste: e.g. if you don’t care for magical realism, or for stories where it’s not clear exactly what happened even after you’ve read all of it.

  4. Ramez Naam (Nexus)

    Near-future technothriller in which an elixir of brain-augmenting nanomachines, street name Nexus, offers people the chance to become ‘posthuman’…or could be abused to enslave humanity. Three different organizations are struggling to control it, and the protagonists, who just want to be left in peace to experiment on their own minds, are caught in the middle. Generally a fun read; occasionally clunky prose (particularly in fight scenes); overspecific about gadgets in use (lots of technothrillers do this and I don’t understand why). I am a little tired of cheap drama achieved by poor communication between people who are nominally on the same side.

    Brain-augmenting nanomachinery, and the United States of America sliding into police state-hood, seem to be in the zeitgeist right now. I’ve seen both done with a lot more nuance: this gets obnoxiously preachy in places. (Recommendations in this category with more nuance: Smoking Mirror Blues, A Girl and her Fed.)

  5. No Award

  6. Wesley Chu (The Lives of Tao)

    I gave up on this after three chapters. The story concept could have been interesting—two factions of immortal, nonphysical aliens, battling in the shadows of Earth’s history, possessing humans and using them to carry out their plans—but it’s got major problems on the level of basic storytelling craft. Those first three chapters are one page after another of unnecessary detail, repetition of information the audience already has, grating shifts in tone, boring conversations about trivia, and worst of all, self-spoilers. Maybe two pages’ worth of actual story happened, and a good chunk of that probably shouldn’t have happened on stage (because it was a self-spoiler). And I had been given no reason to care what happened to the characters.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Frédéric Harper: Le web ouvert avec Firefox OS et Firefox à Linux Montréal

Creative Commons: http://j.mp/1o9O86K

Creative Commons: http://j.mp/1o9O86K

Mardi prochain, je serai au CRIM (situé au 405 avenue Ogilvy, suite 101) pour présenter à propos de Firefox OS, mais aussi de Firefox au groupe Linux Montréal. Lors de cette soirée, je ne discuterais pas avec ma clientèle habituelle, soit les développeurs. En effet, la présentation aura bien sûr des aspects techniques, mais sera plus considérée comme haut niveau, pour les utilisateurs avec un intérêt pour la technologie. Voici un avant-goût de la soirée:

Firefox OS, mais qu’est-ce que Mozilla avait en tête pour lancer une Xième plateforme mobile sur le marché! Quel en est le but? Quels en sont les avantages pour les utilisateurs, mais aussi pour les développeurs? Qu’en est-il de Firefox et du web ouvert? Frédéric Harper de Mozilla viendra vous parler de ces deux plateformes, de l’Open Source et de l’Open Web au sein de cette organisation hors du commun.

C’est donc un rendez-vous à 18:30 mardi prochain. Vous pouvez confirmer votre présence sur différents réseaux, soit Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et Meetup.


--
Le web ouvert avec Firefox OS et Firefox à Linux Montréal is a post on Out of Comfort Zone from Frédéric Harper

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Joel Maher: Say hi to Kaustabh Datta Choudhury, a newer Mozillian

A couple months ago I ran into :kaustabh93 online as he had picked up a couple good first bugs.  Since then he has continued to work very hard and submit a lot of great pull requests to Ouija and Alert Manager (here is his github profile).  After working with him for a couple of weeks, I decided it was time to learn more about him, and I would like to share that with Mozilla as a whole:

Tell us about where you live-

I live in a town called Santragachi in West Bengal. The best thing about this place is its ambience. It is not at the heart of the city but the city is easily accessible. That keeps the maddening crowd of the city away and a calm and peaceful environment prevails here.

Tell us about your school-

 I completed my schooling from Don Bosco School, Liluah. After graduating from there, now I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science & Engineering from MCKV Institute of Engineering.

Right from when it was introduced to me, I was in love with the subject ‘Computer Science’. And introduction to coding was one of the best things that has happened to me so far.

Tell us about getting involved with Mozilla-

I was looking for some exciting real life projects to work on during my vacation & it was then that the idea of contributing to open source projects had struck me. Now I have been using Firefox for many years now and that gave me an idea of where to start looking. Eventually I found the volunteer tab and thus started my wonderful journey on Mozilla.

Right from when I was starting out, till now, one thing that I liked very much about Mozilla was that help was always at hand when needed. On my first day , I popped a few questions in the IRC channel #introduction & after getting the basic of where to start out, I started working on Ouija under the guidance of ‘dminor’ & ‘jmaher’. After a few bug fixes there, Dan recommended me to have a look at Alert Manager & I have been working on it ever since. And the experience of working for Mozilla has been great.

Tell us what you enjoy doing-

I really love coding. But apart from it I also am an amateur photographer & enjoy playing computer games & reading books.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years’ time I prefer to see myself as a successful engineer working on innovative projects & solving problems.

If somebody asked you for advice about life, what would you say?

Rather than following the crowd down the well-worn path, it is always better to explore unchartered territories with a few.

:kaustabh93 is back in school as of this week, but look for activity on bugzilla and github from him.  You will find him online once in a while in various channels, I usually find him in #ateam.


[Source: Planet Mozilla]

William Reynolds: Important changes to mozillians.org vouching

Today we are rolling out new changes to the vouching system on mozillians.org, our community directory, in order to make vouching more meaningful.

mozillians.org has a new vouch form

mozillians.org has a new vouch form

Vouching is the mechanism we use to enable Mozillians access to special content, like viewing all profiles on mozillians.org, certain content on Air Mozilla, and Mozilla Moderator. Getting vouched as a Mozillian means you have made a meaningful contribution.

Action required

If you attended the 2013 Summit, there is no impact to how you use the site and no action required. But…we can use your help.

If you have vouched for others previously, go to their profiles and complete the vouching form to describe their contributions by September 30th. You can see the people that you have vouched listed on your mozillians.org profile.

If you did not attend the 2013 Summit, you can still use the mozillians.org site as you do now, until September 30th.

After September 30th, your profile will become unvouched, unless a Mozillian, who attended the 2013 Summit, vouches for you again.

Both volunteers and paid staff are being treated the same when it comes to receiving multiple vouches. That means everyone who wants to vouch for contributors needs to first receive 3 vouches – more information below.

Most importantly, no one’s vouched status is disappearing this week.

More details and an FAQ on the Vouching wiki page.

Thanks to the Mozillians.org Team who worked on this big initiative to make vouching better. The new vouching system was designed through discussions at Grow Mozilla meetings and several forum threads on community-building and dev.community-tools.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Dave Hunt: Performance testing Firefox OS on reference devices

A while back I wrote about the LEGO harness I created for Eideticker to hold both the device and camera in place. Since then there has been a couple of iterations of the harness. When we started testing against our low-cost prototype device, the harness needed modifying due to the size difference and position of the USB socket. At this point I tried to create a harness that would fit all of our current devices, with the hope of avoiding another redesign.

Eideticker harness v2.0 If you’re interested in creating one of these yourself, here’s the LEGO Digital Designer file and building guide.

Unfortunately, when I first got my hands on our reference device (codenamed ‘Flame’) it didn’t fit into the harness. I had to go back to the drawing board, and needed to be a little more creative due to the width not matching up too well with the dimensions of LEGO bricks. In the end I used some slope bricks (often used for roof tiles) to hold the device securely. A timelapse video of constructing the latest harness follows.

We now are 100% focused on testing against our reference device, so in London we have two dedicated to running our Eideticker tests, as shown in the photo below.

Eideticker harness for FlameAgain, if you want to build one of these for yourself, download the LEGO Digital Designer file and building guide. If you want to learn more about the Eideticker project check out the project page, or if you want to see the dashboard with the latest results, you can find it here.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Mozilla Release Management Team: Auto-comment on the Release Management flags

Implemented in bug 853108 by the bmo team, using the tracking flags will automatically updated the comment field with some templates. The goal is to reduce back and forth in Bugzilla on bug tracking. We also hope that is going to improve our response time.

For example, for the tracking requests (tracking-firefoxNN, tracking-firefox-esrNN or blocking-b2g), the user will see the text added into the Bugzilla comment field:

[Tracking Requested - why for this release]:

With this change, we hope to simplify the decision process for the release team.

For the relnotes-* flags:

Release Note Request (optional, but appreciated)
[Why is this notable]:
[Suggested wording]:
[Links (documentation, blog post, etc)]:

This change aims to simplify the process of release notes writing. In some cases, it can be hard for release manager to translate a bug into a new feature description.

Flags on which this option is enabled are:

  • relnote-firefox
  • relnote-b2g
  • tracking-firefoxNN
  • tracking-firefox-esrNN
  • blocking-b2g

Finally, we reported bug 1041964 to discuss about a potential auto-focus on the comment area.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Mozilla Release Management Team: Firefox 32 beta1 to beta2

  • 21 changesets
  • 71 files changed
  • 788 insertions
  • 180 deletions

ExtensionOccurrences
html23
js12
cpp12
java5
sjs4
h3
xml2
css2
c2
mm1
jsm1
ini1
in1
idl1
build1

ModuleOccurrences
browser37
js10
mobile7
toolkit5
netwerk3
gfx3
media2
widget1
security1
content1
b2g1

List of changesets:

Nicolas B. PierronBug 1006899 - Prevent stack iterations while recovering allocations. r=bhackett, a=sledru - b801d912ea0e
Ryan VanderMeulenBug 1006899 - Only run the test if TypedObject is enabled. rs=nbp, a=test-only - 794d229b5125
Blair McBrideBug 1026853 - Experiment is displayed as "pending removal" in detailed view. r=irving,a=lmandel - ecdde13a0aaa
Byron Campen [:bwc]Bug 1042873: Add the appropriate byte-order conversion to ChildDNSRecord::GetNextAddr r=mcmanus a=lmandel - fe0621be0dc3
Magnus MelinBug 1038635 - Zoom doesn't work in the email composer. r=Neil, a=sledru - f9b0de65c69d
Brian HackettBug 1024132 - Add one slot cache for stripping leading and trailing .* from RegExps for test() calls. r=jandem, a=lmandel - 2339e39f5ff4
Danny ChenBug 1005031 - Video controls are displayed in the middle of the video. r=wesj, a=lmandel - 5a6749df6a78
Markus StangeBug 995145 - Don't erase pixels from the window top when drawing the highlight line. r=smichaud, a=sledru - 4767a3451d00
Byron Campen [:bwc]Bug 980270 - Part 1: Plug a couple of common leaks in nICEr. r=drno, a=sledru - d8e7408cb510
Matt WoodrowBug 1035168 - Use Map api to check if DataSourceSurfaces have data available in DrawTargetCairo. r=Bas, a=lmandel - dd517186b945
Matt WoodrowBug 1035168 - Avoid calling GetData/Stride on a surface that we will later Map. r=Bas, a=lmandel - 2bc7c49698cc
Marco BonardoBug 1024133 - Switch to tab magic URL not trimmed on key navigation. r=mano, a=sledru - a8dd4b54e15b
Makoto KatoBug 984033 - Large OOM in nsStreamLoader::WriteSegmentFun. r=honza, a=lmandel, ba=comment-only-change - ecfc5bee1685
Richard NewmanBug 1018240 - Part 1: Reinitialize nsSearchService when the browser locale changes. r=adw, a=sledru - bbfebb4ec504
Richard NewmanBug 1018240 - Part 2: Invalidate BrowserSearch engine list when locale has changed. r=bnicholson, a=sledru - d1e5cb0fbe70
Victor PorofBug 1004104 - Disable caching when running netmonitor tests to hopefully fix some timeouts. r=dcamp, a=test-only - 00f079c876f6
J. Ryan StinnettBug 1038695 - Show all cookies in Net Monitor, not just first. r=vporof, a=sledru - bce84b70da30
Richard NewmanBug 1042984 - Add extensive logging and descriptive crash data for library load errors. r=mfinkle, a=sledru - 3808d8fbe348
Richard NewmanBug 1042929 - Don't throw Errors from JSONObject parsing problems. r=mcomella, a=sledru - b295f329dfd3
Steven MacLeodBug 1036036 - Stop leaking docshells in Session Store tests. r=ttaubert, a=test-only - 24aaa1ae41a6
Richard NewmanBug 1043627 - Only re-initialize nsSearchService on locale change in Fennec. r=adw, a=sledru - 61b30b605194

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Prashish Rajbhandari: How #MozDrive Started

For me, it all started with a phone call..

It was a lazy Monday morning when I got a phone call from my very good friend Ankurman from Cincinnati. It was the very next day after the Memorial Day Weekend, which meant I slept late and was in no intention to wake up early.

“Prashish! You’ve got to listen to what I’m planning to do.”

“Hey! What’s up? It’s 4 in the morning here by the way.”

I sensed his sudden realization of the time zone difference from the tone of my voice.

I’m sorry to have awakened you. Do you want me to call you later?”

“Nah. Tell me.”

Then Ankurman started narrating his story:

 “Imagine driving across the lower 48 States in the US, exploring the unknown lands, meeting with amazing people from different backgrounds, the cultural diversity, while raising social awareness regarding the obesity epidemic in the US.”

I had this sudden excitement which got me off my bed immediately. I went straight to the kitchen to get some caffeine.

“Okaay, I’m listening.”

He narrated me about the idea of his campaign and what he planned to achieve. We talked for more than an hour talking about various other awareness campaigns.

Later that evening while I was digging through my pictures from the MozFest in London earlier this year, the Mozillian inside me had the eureka moment.

“What if I could also travel across the United States and share the true story of Mozilla with the people; that we Mozillians truly care for the open web and that to make a positive impact in the society is one of our ulterior goals.”

You see, I was easily convinced by the idea of such public awareness campaigns. I was inspired by many stories of people traveling to raise funds for charity or awareness.

I found Tenlap by Greg Hartle, in particular, very interesting. Greg gave away all his possession and started off with $10 to understand and to create work in this world full of insecurity. He plans to travel to all 50 States, meet new people who are rebuilding their lives and then, launch businesses in areas new to him. All in 1,000 days. Gowtham Ramamurthy from my university just recently rode to all 48 States to raise funds for children and it was a massively successful.

The web is a global participative platform where everyone can have their own voice and opinion. Despite the presence of such a huge source of knowledge in the web, people are still confused about possibilities of the web.

People know Firefox as the browser with a blue globe and an orange fox around it.

But, we are more than a browser.

We are a global community of passionate volunteers and contributors whose mission is to serve the user above all, advance the state of the web and keep it open.

People need to know this.

People need understand the web better so that they can take control their online lives.

People need to know Mozilla’s mission, that we are more than a browser. They need to know what we are doing and how they can be a part of this global movement.

And it is our duty as Mozillians to spread this message to masses.

This is how #MozDrive started.

Follow the journey: Website, Twitter, Facebook or Feed.

Original Article: #MozDrive


Filed under: Mozilla, Personal Tagged: mozdrive, mozilla, mozrep [Source: Planet Mozilla]

Kevin Ngo: Off-Camera Lighting with Two Strobes Had to grab my dad's Canon SL1, my old nifty-fifty, and install proprietary Canon RAW support for this measly shot.

One muggy evening in a dimly-lit garage. The sun had expired, and everything began to lose their supplied illumination. I saw my dear friend, Chicken, starting at me from the couch. A shipment had come in a few weeks ago, a second radio receiver for a wireless camera flash. I had two strobes (or flashes), two receivers, a camera and a trigger, a model, and darkness. It was time to do a brief experiment lighting a subject with two off-camera strobes.

Off-camera lighting allows for great creativity. Unlike an on-camera flash with obliterates any dimension in your images, having an off-camera flash (or better yet, two) puts a paintbrush of light into your hands. Rather than relying on natural light, using strobes puts the whole scene under your control. It's more meticulous, but the results are beyond reach of a natural light snapshot.

I've read a bit of David Hobby's Strobist, the de-facto guide for making use of off-camera flashes. There are several ways to trigger an off-camera flash. I use radio triggers. The CowboyStudio NPT-04 is a ridiculously cheap, but nails, trigger. Place the trigger on the hotshoe, and attach the receivers to the flashes. Make sure your camera is on manual and your shutter speed is below the maximum flash sync speed. It's also nice to a flash capable of manual operation (to set power).

A good workflow for getting a scene set up is to:

  • Start without any flashes. Lower camera exposure as much as possible while still keeping all detail and legibility in the image. We start with an underexposed image, and paint the light on.
  • Add one flash at a time, illuminating what you wish to illuminate.
  • Through trial-and-error (it gets faster over time), tweak camera exposure and flash power until the scene is lit as desired.

Example 1: The Dimly-Lit Garage

Normally, when I'm indoors, I like to bounce the flash off the ceiling for a nice even swath of light. But there's less dimension and it's a one-pony technique. So let's first start without any flashes:

It was dark, so they de-strobed.

It's...dark. But no worries, a lot of the detail is still legible. We see the entire model (even the dark right hand), and details in the background. I'm shooting RAW so I still have a lot of dynamic range, and we'll layer in light in the next step. Let's add one strobe:

A bit out-of-focus since I was using a manual lens, but the light is there.

We now have a strobe on camera right. It's pointed 45-degrees towards the subject from camera right. This one isn't manual so I'm forced to use it at full power, but it is not too overpowering. Since it's only one flash from one side, we see a lot of dimension on the model with the shadows on camera left.

However, too much dimension can sometimes not be flattering. We see lot of the model's wrinkles (hadn't had her beauty sleep). We can flatten the lighting by adding yet another strobe:

A perfect white complexion.

And we have a nice even studio lighting. This strobe is set up on 45-degrees camera left pointed towards the subject. This set up of two strobes behind the camera each pointed 45-degrees toward the subject is fairly common to achieve even lighting. Here's a rough photo of the setup (one strobe on the left, one strobe within the shelves):

Lighting setup.

Example 2: Out At Dusk

I took it outside to the backyard. The sun was done, so no hope for golden hour, but as strobie-doos, we don't need no sun. We can make our own sun. I placed our model, Chicken, in front of the garden on a little wooden stool. Then one flash for a sidelight fill on camera left:

The ol' Chicken in the headlights.

With one flash, it doesn't quick look natural, though it makes for a cool scene. I imagine Chicken waiting at home for her husband on the porch, and the headlights slowly rearing in towards her. So our model is now pretty well lit, but the background leaves something to be desired. We can creatively use our second flash to accent the background!

Manufacturing our own golden hour.

It looks like sunrise! I actually had to manually hold the flash pointing down 45-degrees on camera right towards the plants, while setting a 12-second timer on the manually-focused camera. It's times like these where a stand to hold the flash would come in handy. The second flash created a nice warm swath of light, overpowering the first flash to create a sense that the sun is on camera right.

From Here

Off-camera lighting gives complete dictatorship over the lighting of the scene. It can make night into day, or add an extremely dramatic punch. With no strobe or on-camera flash, you are forced to make do with what you have with little choice. With multiple flashes, lighting modifiers (umbrellas, boxes), there are no limits.

Photos taken with Pentax K-30 w/ Pentax-M 50mm f1.7.

[Source: Planet Mozilla]

Jennifer Boriss: Looking Ahead: Challenges for the Open Web At the end of this week, I’m moving on after six amazing years at Mozilla. On August 25, I’ll be joining Reddit - another global open source project – as their first […] [Source: Planet Mozilla]

More News


Sponsored by: