hotel recommendation in NYC?

I’m going over to Manhattan for the IORG meeting. I’d love a recommendation for a place to stay. My favorite hotels are small boutique places — I have a strong dislike for the huge chains, and I’ll pick a safe hostel over a hilton. The conference is midtown (30 W 44th Street), so anywhere within walking or cab distance from there would be ideal.

An impossible and incredible job: leading the quality effort for Thunderbird

I have a job for someone who is either incredibly ambitious and audactious, or just crazy (in a good way). Whoever gets this job will undoubtedly get emails like the ones I got when I joined Mozilla: “I don’t know whether to envy your or pity you.”

The challenge is this: we need someone to coordinate, lead, strategize, implement, and generally drive the quality of the Thunderbird user experience.

The scope is, as with most things Mozilla, huge.

  • We have thousands of open bugs, feature request, and work items of all kinds, many of them untouched in years (much to our collective embarrassment, but we’re finally tackling the problem).
  • We have a small but growing set of automated tests, and much work ahead to improve our test infrastructure.
  • We have a large set of manual tests, but no one with enough time to critically analyze how well the Litmus approach is working for Thunderbird, and how we should change our testing strategy
  • We have an amazing set of volunteers who spend hours doing valuable bug triage, code verification, dupe-detection, customer support. They have a lot of knowledge about the quality issues with the product, but there’s currently no clear process for integrating that knowledge.
  • We have thousands of people using nightly builds and alpha builds — people who are already self-selected early adopters, who, I’m convinced, will collectively be the key to decentralizing and leveraged QA for Thunderbird
  • . We don’t talk to them enough yet.

  • We have a separate codebase (Calendar), with its own QA, testing, community, with which we’re planning intensive collaboration.

In short: we have a product which today affects millions of users, and tomorrow hopefully tens of millions, and we need someone to lead the quality effort. It’s not just about QA, although QA is a big part of the job. It’s not just about community building, although anyone who thinks they can do this job without the community needs to look at the numbers again. It’s not just about bugs, either — we need someone to help create an integrated perspective on quality and software integrity, which spans the set of communities involved.

The right candidate will have deep QA experience, ideally with both desktop and web products. She or he will be able to elicit participatory QA (from developers, alpha users, early adopters, and mainstream adopters), help triage bugs and identify the most significant issues in the product, build a testing strategy, and more.

If you’re interested in helping us produce the best product possible, and you have both a demonstrated interest in quality issues, a passion for helping make mass-market software, ideally experience in one or more of mail/messaging, calendaring, the Mozilla world, or open source QA, then please send a resume to If possible, include descriptions of how you’ve done similar or related things in the past, and explain how you would tackle this challenge.

Applicants from all locations will be considered, and remote work is possible.

Movie recommendations

Based on Simon‘s recommendation (he’s quite reliable), I squeezed Elling in the kids’ subscription. I highly recommend it. It’s a peaceful, thoughtful, grownup movie, about a couple of slightly odd Norwegian men trying to figure out life. Don’t even bother looking at the page, it’s worse than misleading. Just watch it.

Other recommendations while we’re at it:

  • Unser t├Ąglich Brot (Our Daily Bread), a fascinating piece about industrial food production, without words, and yet quite compelling.
  • Another Simon rec: Manda Bala (Send a bullet), a depressing but fascinating movie about the impact of kidnappings in Sao Paolo,
  • Le scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), a true story about a successful french editor who has a stroke and ends up with “locked-in syndrome”, and can only communicate by blinking. Surprisingly not as depressing as you’d think.
  • In the lighter-weight entertainment category, I enjoyed Next, as an action/time-travel Nicholas Cage vehicle.


At the last eLiberatica, I was talking to some of the speakers, and several of us reflected that while we really enjoyed giving the standard, “speak up and monopolize everyone’s attention for 20 minutes, then take 5 minutes of questions”, given the energy in the crowd, we’d be really keen, in general, to have less cathedral and more bazaar at open source conferences as a rule.

OSCON is coming up, and of the mainstream conferences it’s been quite friendly to the less commercial “unconferences”, while still being a very worthwhile event in its own, conferency way. A few points to note:

  • Dan Mosedale and I will be giving a talk about Thunderbird, and we expect you all to be there, and to walk away with confidence in the future of Thunderbird, because you will also walk away with some action items!
  • I’m on the program committee for OSCON, so I get to share this 15% off discount code on my blog. How cool is that? os08pgm is the word of the day.
  • Zak Greant is leading an unconference at OSCON on the topic of how do we transfer knowledge about community building and open source, just before we turn senile. I’ve told him I’d help lead a discussion, but I’m not sure what topic to cover. Anyway, it’s free, it’ll be fun, and you’ll get a chance to ask a bunch of experienced people

Building compelling, engaging brands, in previously boring markets

I’ve been thinking a bit about brands recently. The Mozilla brand, the Thunderbird brand (and what it should evolve to be). One of the brands that I keep being impressed by is VanCity. For those not around here, VanCity is Canada’s largest credit union, with about 400,000 members and $14 billion in assets. They’re local to the greater Vancouver area, but they far from provincial in their thinking.

They’re unlike any other bank I’ve seen in that they take corporate social responsibility quite seriously (or at the very least they have me believing it!), and shout about it. In addition to having values which work for me, their overall brand works for me. From the typography to the design of their collateral to their branch “feel”, to their advertising campaigns, I keep responding positively to them.

Their street ads are particularly good (I can’t find pictures of them on the web apart from these), but it’s more than just a good ad agency at work. In particular, how many banks have gotten me to download their governance rules?

In contrast, I was walking to my (non-VanCity) bank today and saw an ad on the way in that said roughly “watch your savings grow every time you spend”, advertising some sort of debit card. That language got me thinking of Orwell’s 1984, and of the license that we grant advertisers when it comes to accuracy. As I walked in I was trying to figure out how I could move my mortgage out of this bank sooner than I planned. I felt almost guilty that my mortgage wasn’t with VanCity. When I moved my RRSP (like a 401k) to VanCity, I felt good. Impressive!

I need to find out more about how they do that.

What’s Mozilla’s scope? What should it be?

A couple of canadians (!) have recently put up interesting posts about the Mozilla Foundation: David Eaves, with whom I had a great breakfast a few weeks ago, and Marc Surman, with whom I had a great long-distance phone chat. Both posts are worth reading, and digesting.

For what it’s worth, I agree with both.

I agree with David that the people involved in the open web (and that includes all wikipedia authors, youtube uploaders, and consumers of the same) are part of a social movement, whether they self-identify or not. I’m really interested to learn from him and people like him what the history of social movements can tell us about how to take what has traditionally been a very geeky concept (open standards, open source, etc.), and make it politically and socially not just relevant but critical and much more powerful than it is today. The “opposition” is much more astute at manipulating both courts and markets to their advantage, but that will shift if we’re ambitious enough.

I also agree w/ Marc that the Mozilla Foundation can do a lot more than what it does today, in shaping, energizing, and facilitating that movement. Especially when I’m outside of North America, it’s the Foundation that has credibility, and that credibility is currently languishing, unleveraged. We could and should do more.

It’s nice to see that the Mozilla galaxy is growing up enough that there can be simultaneous energy towards one thing, and very different but also important energy towards this complementary set of thought processes.

Oh, for the record: when I say open web these days, I mean something much broader and richer than just “the WWW using open standards”, although that’s the definition that I first used. Thunderbird’s goals, for example, are in scope, even if it doesn’t have much to do with traditional web protocols yet. Things like data portability, identity 2.0, net neutrality, data privacy, etc., are all in scope. Trying to pin down exactly what I mean with that word is something I’m trying to figure out — as David mentions, we need to do a better job of defining what we’re agreeing on.

I look forward to the conversations.

eLiberatica 2008

I’m back from Romania, where I had the pleasure of participating in the second annual eLiberatica conference, on open source, organized by Lucian Savluc, a fellow Vancouverite, with organizational support from ROSI, and with Zak’s assistance.

It was a lot of fun, as well as a highly energizing event (which is hard when the base condition is one of severe jetlag compounded by not enough sleep).

My slides are now available, although you don’t get to appreciate all of the fancy animations that Keynote does (note to the folks: make the animations really sexy, and I’ll switch. I’m a sucker for pizzazz.).

I have a bunch of thoughts that I want to blog as a result of my trip, but as usual, finding the time to organize them into a coherent post is the challenging bit.

Executive summary:

  • eLiberatica was great, look forward to seeing how it evolves
  • Traveling to foreign lands with hosts such as Lucian and his friends is definitely the way to travel
  • Travel and the subsequent impact on relationships is incredibly important to the long term success of open source, and of Mozilla. We have to make it easier, more decentralized, and less guilt-inducing
  • I want to travel more. I want to travel less.
  • Romania is changing incredibly fast. There are lots of opportunities, and decisions which will have significant impact are being made there every day
  • Zak’s network includes really interesting, thoughtful folks.
  • The world is incredibly small, and yet very big
  • If they’ll honest about it, everyone likes dancing to hits of the eighties.