Jun 292007

My wife and I went out to run some errands and have dinner this evening, and we happened to be near the AT&T store here.  This was at around 8:30, but there was a large crowd of people huddled around what I can only assume is the iPhone display inside the store.  There wasn’t any crowd left outside, but apparently there was one.

How can I tell?

There was a police officer there for crowd control.

Man.  iPhone madness comes to small-town Tennessee.

 Posted by at 10:45 PM
Jun 262007

Now that I’ve had some sleep, and I’m starting to gradually win out over this cold I’ve got, it’s time to actually write a bit about what we discussed at the Paris developer day related to MDC localization topics.

Before we even started, Nukeador and I had a long discussion over lunch, and he suggested that we create a template that could be applied to all translated pages that would compare that article’s last modification date against the last modification date of the original English article; if the English article has had a major change since that date, the template would throw up a banner indicating that the article isn’t in sync with the English version and include a link to that.

This is a fantastic idea, and is one that I intend to pursue very soon.

More immediately, I’m going to be working on migrating the bits I have about localization in my user pages on MDC into the MDC: namespace where it belongs.  We need to make more of an effort to promote our need for more contributors to participate in the localization work.

Other ideas that came out:

  • We should look at ways to make translating more fun, by staging “events” such as group meet-ups where translators get together in one place and hack on translations together.  This would increase the feeling of community participation.  We could also have contests, perhaps with some prizes, to add to the fun.  This would be especially helpful as we push to get Firefox 3 documentation completed, for example.
  • There should be pages listing the articles that are most in need of being translated for each language, so that people that want to contribute to the localization work know where to begin.
  • It might be fun to come up with a scoring system that compares the progress made by each localization team, so that they can compete to see who can do the best work fastest.
  • We can help ensure quality by offering readers the ability to rate articles, either by using a star system or by a small selection of questions such as “Did this article help you?” and “Was this translated article clearly translated?”
  • Perhaps we could add an indicator of some sort to the main page for each localization that uses some algorithm to determine how well translated that language is, possibly weighted by page views.  This would help offer some positive feedback to localizers as to their progress, and would also help show readers how we’re doing.
  • It was pointed out that once the main page is translated, along with all the pages that it directly links to, it can be easy to become complacent because the localized site “looks done.”  We could prevent that by adding some dynamic links to the main page, so that the links change each time it’s loaded.  These could include links to the top viewed articles in various categories, randomly selected articles, or something like that.
  • We need to make more use of the tools created by MDC Japan, and promote them better.  Part of this would be to create localized instructions on their use.
  • We should get schools to help.  Just like Seneca students help contribute to the English documentation, we could find schools around the world to contribute to the localization effort.  This would be especially good if we could arrange for students to receive course credit for the work.
  • While reading our documentation, readers should be made aware that they can make changes if they see errors.  Some sort of reminder in the header, sidebar, or other place in the browser would help spread the word.
  • When articles (or a set of related articles) are undergoing heavy editing, we should consider locking them in the localized versions so that translators don’t get frustrated by having to deal with constant revisions, only unlocking them when the English version is done, so that they can translate all the changes at once.
  • Find a way to identify specific paragraphs that are obsolete in a translation, and offer the ability to show the original and revised English paragraphs, as well as an edit box for revising the paragraph in the localization.  This would help translators immensely.
  • Add an indicator to the wiki that shows how many times the page has changed recently, or some similar indicator to show how stable the page is, so that localizers know when a page is stable enough to be safely translated.
  • Offer a button that can be clicked on the localized version of an article to display how many times the English version has changed since the last change was made to the localized version.

Gandalf took extensive notes as well, and they’re worth looking over.

In all, there are some great ideas here and I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of them!

 Posted by at 10:36 AM
Jun 232007

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m in my hotel room getting ready to head for the airport shortly.  Thought I would jot down some thoughts about yesterday’s excellent Developer Day before I leave.

We had a rousing discussion about MDC localization, and I have a few things to work on when I get home, including setting up more information about how to do localization, as well as who’s working on which localization, in the wiki itself.

We also brainstormed a number of interesting ideas about ways to improve localization, which I’ll get into in more detail when I have a little more time.

One idea I’m particularly excited about is the idea of setting up a template that could be placed on translated pages that would cause a notice to appear if the English version of an article has changed more recently than the translation.

The folks that work on our localizations are all very enthusiastic people with a passion for the project, and it was a thrill to meet them face-to-face.

I skipped dinner last night due to my cold and the early hour of my departure today.  I’ll grab something to eat once I’m at the airport.

 Posted by at 11:37 PM
Jun 232007

Had a pleasant lunch.  Toward the end, I had a nice long chat with some of the MDC localizers and others interested in the localization effort, where we swapped some ideas.  If the enthusiasm I encountered there was any sign, the major discussion on the topic this afternoon should be quite successful.

 Posted by at 8:12 AM
Jun 232007

I’m sitting in the nice auditorium here at Club Confair waiting for things to get roling.  Got a pretty good night’s sleep (about 9 hours’ worth of it), but woke up this morning feeling quite unwell due to my cold.  My voice is teetering on the brink of giving out, which could make certain things tricky today.

Dinner last night was better than I’d been afraid it might be.  I had lamb for the first time, and it wasn’t bad at all.  Not really my cup of tea, but it was surprisingly tasty.  The bread was of course fantastic.

My plan for today is basically to medicate the best I can with Sudafed and Tylenol as needed.  I have one dose of DayQuil I’m going to take in the morning to get me to the airport.  Once I get on the plane, I’ll take NyQuil and hopefully manage to sleep a little on the way home.  We’ll see.

I’m still looking forward to hearing ideas from the MDC localizers that are here to see what ideas they have to make things work better.  There are other things that should be interesting, too, of course — but that’s the big one for me.

I’m also looking forward to going back to the hotel and getting some sleep, but that’s my cold talking.

 Posted by at 4:19 AM
Jun 222007

Before I start, let me just preface this post by saying that although it sounds like I’m complaining a lot, I don’t really mean it that way.  A lot of the time, when I try to share my thoughts on things, it sounds like I’m complaining when I don’t really mean it that way.  I’m just… explaining how I feel about things.  Complaining, to my mind, is when you whine endlessly about something and expect something to come of it.


Flight to Paris went smoothly (despite the fact that the WiFi service was not working during my 6-hour layover in Houston — ugh).  Things went somewhat less smoothly after that; by about an hour before landing, it became quite clear that I have caught my daughter’s cold, so I’ll be in awesome form for this event tomorrow — not to mention my flight home on Sunday.

The bus from the airport to the hotel blew its front left tire before we even got out of the airport complex.  They had us get off the bus, then brought in a second bus.  We piled aboard, and off we went.

I dozed off on the bus for a while, and was awakened by the sound of the engine revving and fading over and over again.  Apparently the transmission croaked.  So we had to get off that bus and onto a third.  Awesome.

I had intended to do some sightseeing this afternoon, but between the cold, which by the time we hiked to the hotel was starting to get quite icky, and the repeated bursts of very substantial rain, it didn’t seem prudent at all.  Sigh.

Now I’m checking a few things online before I head downstairs to meet the others for dinner.  I’m a little nervous about dinner.  I’m not a fancy dining type of guy, and the meals we tend to have at these events are almost always way past my “fancy threshold” and wind up somewhere in the realm of unappetizing.  That’s not so much a complaint about the food (which I’m sure is excellent) as a regret that I’m just not wired to enjoy it.

Occasionally I’m surprised by these dinners, but not often.

The hotel is about what I expected.  It’s a smallish room with furnishings that are also smallish.  The two twin beds shoved up next to each other is a nice touch.  But the mattresses are comfortable, so I should sleep all right.

The desk is wicker, which will make using my mouse on it tricky to say the least.

There’s no Kleenex in the room.  This is going to be a significant problem, I think…

 Posted by at 1:13 PM
Jun 202007

According to the current schedule,  Firefox 3 is slated to reach beta 1 on July 31.  That’s six weeks from now.  Currently we’re doing pretty well toward reaching our goal of having a minimum set of documentation available for Firefox 3 when the beta launches.

We’ve now got documentation on the Login Manager, which I’ve blogged about previously.  The other major topic that I feel absolutely must be blogged about in advance of the beta is (as I’ve also blogged about previously) Places.  That’s a pretty large topic, and there’s some material already on MDC, although it needs some reorganizing and formatting help.  If anyone would like to tackle that cleanup work, that would be a fantastic help!

I’ll be doing some traveling during July, which will eat into my availability to work on these docs — however, I’ll be poking at it even while I’m on the road, and I’m confident that with the help of our awesome contributors, we’ll have a good starting set of documentation in time for the beta.

The Developer Relations group is gearing up for our campaign to poke extension authors to begin updating their extensions for Firefox 3, and the writers’ job is to make sure that they have the resources necessary to learn how to do it.  Let’s get it on!

 Posted by at 2:48 PM
Jun 192007

I had a dream last night in which I was one of the first people to get an iPhone.  Apparently before the general release.  In the dream, I was quite the envy of everyone around me.

It was gloriously thin, everyone was excited about it, it had my name and some pithy slogan engraved in the back (like they do on iPods).  I was quite surprised to find that I even had network connectivity (including on the cellular network), despite the fact that I’m a Sprint customer and didn’t have the phone entirely through legitimate channels.  I’m a little fuzzy on that last point, but whatever.

Oddly (as is wont to happen in dreams), I didn’t find it at all strange that my iPhone had an awful lot of buttons on it, both on the front and the back, and that there was no on-screen keyboard.  I also didn’t find it at all odd that the web browser was beautiful but only worked on sites using HTML 3 era technology.  Not to mention that it had a totally different user interface than the iPhone we’ve seen demonstrated — and, on top of that, that most apps were black and white (think 1982 Game & Watch sort of display).

Despite all that, people crowded around to get a look, oohing and aahing over it.

It’s all the more ironic since I have no plans to get one — at least not until there are three changes made:

  1. 3G wireless
  2. Ability to use it as a modem for my laptop
  3. Real third-party application support

Despite the fact that I work for one of the world’s great promoters of awesome web applications, not being able to install offline applications onto the iPhone is crazy, given the obvious system software power behind the device.

 Posted by at 10:04 AM
Jun 182007

I’ve got a packing list in progress as I start preparing to head for Paris later in the week.  I’m looking forward to meeting face-to-face with a number of contributors to the localization effort behind the Mozilla Developer Center.

I’m also looking forward to hearing more about the XUL changes in Gecko 1.9, as well as pretty much anything Shaver has to say.  And I don’t just say that because he’s my boss.

It will be my first trip outside North America since I was 10 or 11 years old and living in Southeast Asia.  I don’t particularly look forward to spending so many hours crammed into a coach seat, but I’m working hard on getting over that.  On the plus (sarcastically speaking) side, I get to spend six hours in the airport in Houston, and seven in Newark, on this trip.  Sweet!

 Posted by at 4:15 PM
Jun 142007

The documentation for the new Login Manager in Firefox 3 is basically finished now, barring any unexpected changes to the API before release or possibly any technical errors that need fixing.

There are two reference documents:

And there’s a how-to guide as well.   I see that there are some comments on the talk page for that; I’ll need to look at those and see what if anything needs to be done about them.

 Posted by at 12:52 PM