Oct 16

The Co-pour

logo-4webI’ve started writing again.

I suspect most of you know this already, but for those who don’t: Melissa and I have started writing down our thoughts about management and leadership in tech in a new Medium publication called The Co-pour. We’ve got a few dozen posts up already, covering promotions, firing, and several other areas we’ve seen new leaders struggle.

We have more in the works but here’s the current list, in case you’re curious:

I’m not shutting this place down, it’s still where I’ll write my letters to the girls, and anything else that feels right. But the organizational leadership stuff feels like a chunk of work that can live in its own place. And the collaboration with Melissa makes it important to me that it’s a place we built together.

Anyhow if that’s a thing you’re interested in following, and you haven’t found us over there yet, I hope you’ll take a look. Leading people is hard work, and we want to help where we can.

[PS to the Mozillians out there: Yes, it’s hosted at mfbt.ca. I’ve had to domain for years, for obvious reasons. This felt like an appropriate use of it.]

Nov 12

Dialogue – NSID 2012

Fade in.
NSID 2011 Mosaic
She: You stop shaving?
He: Yep.
She: Like, your mustache? The charity thing?
He: No, that’s Movember. Which is awesome. But different.
She: So you don’t shave at all?
He: Right.
She: For a month?
He: No Shaving in December. Right.
She: Ew.

A brief pause.

She: Why? Because some guy on the internet told you to?
He: He… no. I mean. That’s how I found out about it. But that’s not why.
She: Why then? Doesn’t it itch?
He: It itches for a while. That’s part of the whole thing.
She: Part of what whole thing? Why put yourself through that?
He: Just because. Don’t worry about it.
She: No. No way. If have to live with it for a month, I want to know why.
He: No. Anyhow, you’ll think it’s silly.
She: Probably.

A brief pause.

He: I do it to be free.
She: You do it to be free.
He: I do it to be free. I do it because the world finds a hundred ways each day to silence the songs of my heart. I do it because I need a counterpoint to neckties and filing cabinets and oxford commas. I do it because so much of my life is multivitamins and single-file lines and carpet tiles and checklists and parallel parking and sugar free sweetener and appointment reminders and hand sanitizer and whiteboards that the idea of running a razor across my neck every day in an effort to fit in better is simply more than I will accept. I do it to push back that cloud of oppressive, pervasive, repressive cleanliness by half an inch; to give myself space to breathe, and to be.

A brief pause.

She: Multivitamins. Is that what the guy on the internet told you? Multivitamins?
He: We also get to tweet about it and post photos.
She: Oh good.

Dec 08

Word bubble memery

Courtesy of Wordle, via Shawn.

Sorry about the Java – I would love to see someone amazingly awesome do this using SVG maybe, or JS+Canvas. I would give that person a bottle of reasonably nice wine, in fact!

In other news: NSID continues on apace, and is getting delightfully scruffy! Join the revolution!  If you’ve quit, rejoin!  Who dares oppose?

Jul 08

The Most Important Thing

Microphone by hiddedevries on flickr… or How Mozilla Does Security and What You Can Steal

As promised last week, I have now put my presentation slides for my talk at FIRST2008 online.  I’ve also put up a video I recorded of a dry-run through the slides, in case you want to experience the talk, and not just read it.

Slides (CC-BY-SA):

Video (CC-BY-SA):

Thanks again to Mike Shaver for helping me put these slides together, and to all the people who reviewed them ahead of time.  I really enjoyed this talk, and hope to give it again – as I’ve said many times before, we have learned a lot of lessons the hard way; we should be sharing that experience broadly, since we’re one of the few organizations that can.

I would love any edits or suggestions for the slides themselves, or my presentation of them.  I’ll also accept offers of exciting cash and prizes to give this talk at your campus/company/private island.

Jun 07

Blatant Self-Promotion

PeacockThe Society of Technical Communication has published my latest article in the June edition of Intercom. I wrote it back at IBM, with my coworker Rick Goldberg, and it’s a pretty short piece, but because of the timing of submission and my job change, it’s the first article in print that identifies me as a Mozilla employee. Which is sort of cool.

As a happy coincidence, it happens to be one of the articles they chose for free online distribution, so you can get a full copy of the text in PDF format, if you’re interested.

Kicking and Screaming: Modernizing Today’s Help Systems

Please note, we had no role in choosing the photo to accompany the article. What’s the deal there? Two small CRTs, and a television? With an optical wheel mouse? Aroo?

Also, while trumpeting, I wanted to mention to anyone visiting OSCON 2007 that I (or a person with a similar, but misspelled version of my name) will be giving a talk on Wednesday the 25th about Security UI in general, and Firefox 3 security UI in particular. It would be really keen if I had an audience! Astute readers will note that phrases like “rogues’ gallery” are outside of my normal lexicon. The description was written by Gerv who, in addition to being British and using phrases like “spend the readies” as though they have semantic content, was going to give the talk before I showed up, but graciously bowed out so that I could sink or swim on my own two feet, as it were.

[Photo Courtesy of Billy Brown]

Apr 07

Recklessly Generous

Giving childI’m reading If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland. It has been recommended to me by several people as the absolute best book written on the act of writing. Not necessarily on the structure of writing, certainly not on issues of grammar, but on the base, creative act. She wrote it in the late 1930s, and so far it is absolutely living up to its reputation. I haven’t finished it, but I already recommend it to anyone who has ever thought about writing, and doubly so to those who still haven’t written yet.

There is a passage on page 25 that I have to relate because when I read it, it caused me to stop and to put the book down on my lap and to smile. It’s actually a footnote to page 25, where she’s talking about the distinction between working to express yourself and the world you see around you, and grinding to make money or notoriety in business. It reads:

They will be uncreative in business as well as in everything else. For of course the creative power is expressed in business as well as in other things. I know a business man whose every sentence has more life, creative vision and generosity in it than those of many artists.

But the trouble with business expressing the creative power freely and prodigally as Art does, you cannot be recklessly generous in business, giving higher and higher wages and all your products freely and lovingly to the public.

There are lots of times in history that I would love to visit. I often think (more often than I should, really) about going back and chatting with Newton, or Darwin, and talking with them about which things panned out and which ones didn’t and where we’ve gotten to since. But there is absolutely no time in which I would rather be living than this moment.

I work for a company that gives its products freely and lovingly to the public, and we’re not the only ones doing so. I wish Brenda were around to see it.

Dec 06

I Have Arrived

Whatever arbitrary standards I might previously have employed for assessing my place in the world are rendered suddenly irrelevant.

Ken Jennings just linked to my blog from his.

That is all.


Dec 06

Car Quips

Car QuipI have always wanted an LCD Panel for my rear window in the car. It always seemed like it would be exceedingly handy to have the ability to fire off one of several pre-canned messages or, if I had a passenger, have some kind of keyboard where they could provide context-appropriate messaging for the cars around me. “Your turn signal is on.” “Your high beams are blinding me.” “That is a very big SUV, clearly you suck.” And so forth.

LCDs are still a good idea, but one can accomplish the same goals in a cheaper, lower maintenance, and much more analog way. What I have made instead is a coil-bound flip book with 14 standard messages I might find myself needing, plus three laminated blank pages at the end on which I can add messages with dry-erase markers. The whole thing is designed to fit in my glove compartment, and has forward and mirror-image versions of each message on facing pages so that cars in front of you can read it through their rear view mirror. Obviously the messages have to be kept short to maximize font size, but other than that, the sky’s the limit. In the hopes that someone other than I can see the value in such a book, I present:

Building your own Car Quips booklet
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