My story isn’t as inspiring as some you’re likely to read. A lot of my colleagues at Mozilla are die-hard open-source folks and long-time Mozilla contributors who eventually got jobs at Mozilla, or continued to be excellent contributors without being employed by the big “M.”
I, on the other hand, had always been rather skeptical of open source. Indeed, back in 2005, I was working quite happily at PalmSource (the company that produced the operating system for the Palm PDAs and Treo smartphones), writing developer documentation there, and my experiences with open source products had been almost universally negative.
Then, right around the time my daughter was born, I got laid off, one of the many casualties of PalmSource’s long decline and death throes. I quickly got a contract job writing game software, which turned into a full-time job, but that didn’t pan out for reasons that don’t really matter here. What does matter is that in early 2006, I was in need of a job.
Dave Miller (justdave), a long-time friend of mine, had been involved with Mozilla for years by this point, and he mentioned that they were in need of Mac programmers, so I sent along a resume, and he put in a good word for me. I was brought in and interviewed, where I followed the non-traditional course of basically saying that I thought open source was a good idea but so far had been unimpressed, and that I didn’t like Firefox because it was really ugly on the Mac.
Apparently this didn’t put off Shaver, Asa, Chris Beard, and the others I spoke to — or perhaps they were willing to overlook it once they discovered I had almost ten years of experience doing heavy-duty developer technical writing — because I wound up getting offered a tech writing job. I started on April 3, 2006, and never looked back.
I’ve enjoyed nearly everything about my time with Mozilla so far and don’t see much chance that will change in the near future. There are challenges and occasional frustrations, but the rewards have been fabulous.
I still look upon open source software with a great deal of skepticism, but I don’t automatically assume the worst anymore like I used to. If more open source projects were administrated with even half the adroitness as the Mozilla project, the technology world would be a better place.