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Eric Shepherd: Standing strong and staying Mozillian

Mozilla planet - snein, 06/04/2014 - 07:35

First, let’s start with this: if you want to know what’s really been happening at Mozilla, you should read this blog post, written by a fellow Mozilla Corporation employee. It’s got details from staff meetings, internal discussions, public meetings, and more, and it’s the most accurate representation of the truth of the past two weeks you’ll find anywhere.

Next, let’s recall my previous post, and I will re-iterate that I strongly favor the nationwide legalization of gay marriage, and that I disagree with Brendan on this issue (while also strongly defending his right to hold his opinion as long as he keeps it out of Mozilla business, which he always did).

Now, let’s get into what I personally want to say about the last few days.

In March of 2006, I was the father of a baby girl less than a year old, and had just been let go by my employer—a game development company in Southern California, for whom I was doing Mac programming. Despite a previous arrangement, they decided they wanted me to relocate, which I wasn’t interested in doing. So we parted ways. My old friend David Miller had been working at Mozilla on the Bugzilla project (and doing IT work) for a while, and he suggested I apply for a job as a Mac programmer at Mozilla Corporation.

When Mozilla got wind that I had spent years as a technical writer, I found myself instead interviewing for a job on the developer relations team as a writer for the Mozilla Developer Center site. On April 3, 2006, I started working for Mike Shaver, alongside Deb Richardson, as a technical writer.

I joined Mozilla as someone that didn’t use Firefox. Heck, I didn’t even like Firefox. I also didn’t give a rat’s ass about open source software; indeed, I generally looked down on it across the board as inherently inferior.

I would never have dreamed that someday I would consider myself part of a “community” of Mozilla users. I was not someone that would be a Mozillian. I walked the walk and acted the part, generally, but if you read through my early blog posts, you’ll find clues that I was just in it for the paycheck.

Fast forward to March of 2014. I’m days shy of my eighth anniversary as a Mozilla employee, and I find myself a changed person. I’m an ardent fan of Mozilla and its mission. It’s important to me. It means something to me. It’s part of who I am. I feel every sting when something goes wrong, and exalt in every win Firefox and Mozilla achieves.

I’m not blindly faithful, no. I have my doubts now and again, about specific initiatives or projects, and goodness knows I’m not afraid to say so. I have a well-earned reputation as a bit of a complainer. When I’m troubled, I tend to say so (usually at length). But Mozilla’s mission is my mission: to bring the open Web to everyone, to do it well, and to be sure that everyone knows how to build upon its potential.

I’ll admit: when Brendan was selected as CEO, I was surprised. I had been quite certain that Jay Sullivan would become our permanent CEO, after a long and successful “interim CEO” run. When Brendan was announced, I was somewhat puzzled. Not because of his political beliefs, but because Jay was already in place, doing a good job, and had long experience in more “business management” roles, rather than just “project management” roles.

But I quickly got behind Brendan. As a technical wizard and cofounder of Mozilla (having saved the Mozilla project form the dying embers of what was left of Netscape within the AOL behemoth), Brendan knew and loved the project more than anyone else. Who better than to lead us into the technical challenges that lie ahead? With Li Gong as our new COO to help him, we were in great hands.

Then everything went straight to hell in the media. Taking bits of reality (yes, Brendan donated in favor of Prop. 8, and yes, he didn’t apologize for doing so, and yes, a scant handful of employees tweeted that they wanted him to resign), the press and social media turned reality into some kind of hyper-reality, in which a few basic facts were tossed into a blender with a healthy dose of bullshit and a little wishful thinking on their part.

Soon, we were in the midst of a crisis, with the voices of reason so overwhelmed by outright nonsense that they couldn’t be heard. Several of us tried. We failed. Brendan, overwhelmed by the waves of negative press and outright hate mail he was getting, gave up and resigned. The mob won, and Mozilla lost its founding father.

The press (including the Wall Street Journal) is reporting that Brendan was pushed out by the board. This is not true. Mozilla’s board of directors begged him to stay. Pleaded with him to stay. When he insisted on resigning, they asked him to return to his previous job, or to stay on in another capacity. He declined.

Let’s be clear: Brendan Eich left Mozilla because a virtual mob got whipped up into a frenzy and harassed him and Mozilla until he couldn’t take it anymore. Brendan quit his job because he felt that leaving the organization he loved was better than watching it be dragged down into a cesspool of bullshit.

This situation arose because one man—a key member of Mozilla’s technology team and its community as a whole—exercised his legal civil right to donate money to an unpopular cause (and one that is now, thankfully, a lost cause). That’s the real tragedy here.

But we’ll figure out how to move on. We will mourn for a time. We will do some soul-searching. And then we will get our hands firmly planted back onto the tiller, tack into the wind, and continue our journey. Because we are Mozilla.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

FAQ on CEO Resignation

Mozilla Blog - snein, 06/04/2014 - 05:16

Over the past few days, we have received a lot of questions and seen a great number of media stories about the events surrounding Brendan Eich’s resignation from the role of CEO. Many of the media stories have incorrect facts, so we compiled the following FAQ as a resource for everyone to have access to the core facts.

Here is the announcement on Brendan Eich stepping down as Mozilla CEO.

Q: Was Brendan Eich fired?

A: No, Brendan Eich resigned. Brendan himself said:

“I have decided to resign as CEO effective April 3rd, and leave Mozilla. Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.”

Brendan Eich also posted a blog on this topic.

Q: Was Brendan asked to resign by the Board?

A: No. In fact, Board members and senior executives tried to get Brendan to stay at Mozilla in another role or to stay actively involved with Mozilla as a volunteer contributor. Brendan decided that it was better for himself and for Mozilla to sever all ties, at least for now.

Q: Was Brendan Eich forced out by employee pressure?

A: No. While these tweets calling for Brendan’s resignation were widely reported in the media, they came from only a tiny number of people: less than 10 of Mozilla’s employee pool of 1,000. None of the employees in question were in Brendan’s reporting chain or knew Brendan personally.

In contrast, support for Brendan’s leadership was expressed from a much larger group of employees, including those who felt disappointed by Brendan’s support of Proposition 8 but nonetheless felt he would be a good leader for Mozilla. Communication from these employees has not been covered in the media.

Q: Did Board members resign over Brendan’s Prop 8 donation?

A: No. Gary Kovacs and Ellen Siminoff had previously stated they had plans to leave as soon as Mozilla chose the the next CEO. John Lilly did not resign over Proposition 8 or any concerns about Brendan’s personal beliefs.

Q: Is Mozilla becoming a social activist organization?

A. No. Mozilla is committed to a single cause: keeping the Web free and open. Our specific goals as an organization are outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto. We are activists for the open Web. Mozilla has a long history of gathering people with a wide diversity of political and religious beliefs to work on the project.

Q: Is Mozilla pro-gay-marriage?

A. Like most of their peers in the US tech industry, Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Foundation a) have provided benefits and support to same-sex couples for a number of years and b) recently issued the following statement about marriage equality. The Mozilla Project — which is the overall umbrella for Mozilla’s global community — does not take stands on issues outside the scope of the Mozilla Manifesto.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

K Lars Lohn: Back Into the Light

Mozilla planet - snein, 06/04/2014 - 01:57
The whole Mozilla/Brendan Eich affair has been traumatic from day one.  For me, superimposed over that trauma was the death, just a few days earlier, of my former partner Richard in Montana.

Please, indulge me for a moment as an old man tells a story. 

Richard was diagnosed with an aggressive untreatable cancer just two weeks before he died.  Called from my home in Oregon, I rushed to Montana to say good bye.  I got there in time for him to open his eyes, smile and say my name.  Two days later, Richard died with me, his sister, his adult children, his former wife, and her husband gathered in a circle around him.

I lead the funeral attended by our close family group, a factional extended family and a parade of friends from his life.  I found the tension between the factions to be untenable and I struggled to think of how I could help break down the barriers.

In the eulogy I talked about our unconventional family bound together by love.  I told the story of how Linda, Richard and I lived together as one family supporting each other through graduate school and raising two wonderful kids.  The abiding theme was an encompassing circle of love.

I spoke extemporaneously and  I heard myself saying, "We are a diverse group here today with different beliefs and many disagreements.  Today, though, we unite to celebrate the love of for our lost brother, cousin, nephew, partner, husband, friend.  With love comes forgiveness: with forgiveness comes grace.  I am an atheist, but I bring this from my deepest childhood memories, I reach out to everyone here regardless of faith or lack there of, please join me..."  Then somehow, spilling forth from me came the Lord's Prayer.  I had not recited those words in decades.

With that prayer, I felt connected to everyone in the room, and I dare say we all connected and the factionalism melted away. Maybe it didn't, but from my perspective anyway, people mixed and talked more freely than before the eulogy.

I flew from Montana directly to California for Mozilla work week.  In the first hours of being there, the Mozilla CEO trauma started.  I struggled with my own emotions over what was happening with the Mozilla CEO selection.  My gut reaction was to call for resignation, but I kept silent.  It took me a week of  thinking of my own words, "With love comes forgiveness: with forgiveness comes grace" before my own attitude snapped into focus.  Sitting in the airport just before boarding a plane home, I spilled my feelings in a blog posting.  That post brought both support and condemnation.  On Brendan's resignation, in a fit of pique, I deleted that blog.

I bring it back now, as I think it is important to me and it was, apparently, important to others.  I support tolerance.  I support forgiveness.  I support grace.
I am a gay employee of the Mozilla Corporation, and I support my company's decisions regarding the selection of CEO. This doesn't mean that I'm entirely comfortable with the selection, but not because I think Brendan Eich is a threat, but instead because of the public relations repercussions.

The CEO of a corporation is the public face of the company. It is easy for the public to conflate the personal beliefs of the person with the mission of the company. For this reason, I see that that the selection of Brendan is a public relations disaster. I'm sad that it appears this firestorm was not foreseen. However, the decision is made, we must move on to focus on the real work.

Mozilla's mission is to defend and nurture the free Web. If we're not going to do it, who is? The fervor of indignation regarding our new CEO is a distraction that we do not need. Our energy should be going to support or mission not spin the personal beliefs of the CEO. These are difficult times for the Web with threats from large corporations pushing us into silos and government overreach. The energy that we expend defending our selection of CEO is energy taken from our real mission.

I have friends that hold political opinions that are antithetical to me – I do not exclude them from my life, I embrace my friends. I neither support nor understand their beliefs, but doesn't mean that I throw them away. I cannot condone holding a grudge in perpetuity. To do so would be leaving a wake of enemies behind me.   Instead, I could have them as allies beside me where we do agree.

I do not agree with Brendan's support of Prop 8. However, that particular battle is one that Brendan lost. It's over. I don't know if his opinions have changed nor do I feel that I need to know. Technically, Brendan is a good choice for CEO: we need to be a technically driven company.

Mozilla has a vocal LBGT community. Brendan could not derail us if he wanted to. I don't think that he does want to because he's focused on the real mission: the free Web. He's working with us, I, for one, am willing to set aside my trepidation and work with him, too.

I say to the larger community calling for the ouster of Brendan Eich, “please don't succumb to the knee jerk reaction.” I did at first, but with some thought, I realize that we need to focus on the future not exact retribution for the past.
There is no time in life to draw exclusionary circles.  We must find where we do agree and focus on those, for that is the only route that I see to grace.
Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Pascal Finette: On Mozilla

Mozilla planet - snein, 06/04/2014 - 01:04

A lot has been written about Mozilla in these last few weeks. Some of it is thoughtful, thought-provoking, heartfelt, helpful and necessary. Some of it is politically charged and sometimes factually plain wrong.

I have a hard time reconsolidating all that has been done, happened, said or not said over the last two weeks. I spent more time at Mozilla than at any other organization; I met some of the most brilliant people there; some of my best friends are or were there. I had the great fortune to spend my last year at Mozilla working directly with Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s co-founder and chairperson.

When I first joined Mozilla, after spending all my life in startups, around tech entrepreneurs and as an investor, it took me a year before I even began to fundamentally understand what Mozilla really is. How it is different. How it is not just a company or a non-profit organization but something utterly unique. Dee Hock, founder and former chairman of VISA, coined the term Chaord for this structure: A system which is equal parts chaos and order, which allows for distributed decision making, nodal authority and encourages ways to route around the structure. Much like the Internet itself, Mozilla is set up not to be a spider but a starfish (to use another explanation out of Brafman and Beckstrom’s book “The Starfish and the Spider”).

And yet – during the last two weeks the world looked at Mozilla through the lens of any other organization. An organization which lives and dies by its leader. Where the leader is the focal point of its universe, much like the queen bee in a bee hive.

I don’t believe this to be true. Mozilla is a living organism, made up of its paid staff and vast volunteer base. Decisions are made in a meritocratic way. Mozilla deserves to be seen as what it is – a group of people coming together to make the Web better. Mozilla is not, and never was, its CEO; unlike for example Steve Jobs' Apple, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook or Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s Google. Mozilla’s former CEO John Lilly was fond of saying: “I must be the only CEO in tech who can’t dictate the color of a button in our product.”

I wish for us all to understand that Mozilla is different and treat it accordingly. And for Mozilla to grow new (starfish) arms.

To my friends at Mozilla: The world needs you. To everyone else: If you wish to understand Mozilla better, watch this speech by John Lilly on “Lessons from Mozilla” at WordCamp 2009, it’s hands-down one of the best explanations of Mozilla’s uniqueness I’ve ever seen.


Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Leo McArdle: LinuxLive Bristol 2014

Mozilla planet - snein, 06/04/2014 - 00:25

I wrote the bulk of this post shortly after the event but then due to a number of things, including work, forgetfulness and the recent events within Mozilla, I never edited and published it. In the spirit of ‘better late than never’ here it is:

Most mornings I would groan at having to get up at 5:30, and I would love to say one Saturday three weeks ago was an exception. Sadly, it wasn’t, but the grogginess of having to wake up so early had soon cleared away by the time I was on a rather empty train going down to Bristol.

That Saturday I spent my day helping out at a small event in Bristol, organised by the local Bristol and Bath Linux User Group, aimed at converting users of the soon-to-be EOLed Windows XP to a Linux distribution.

While the event wasn’t quite as well attended as the organisers had hoped, there were still a number of attendees I managed to talk to about Mozilla and Firefox, and the time not spent talking to attendees was filled with other interesting discussions.

I had a number of goals for the event but a few of these got thrown out of the window when the technological knowledge of most attendees was slightly higher than I expected. Because of this, rather than spend time explaining what a web browser was to people, I focused on telling the Mozilla story, and helping users with any problems they had in Firefox.

I also ended up imparting some Linux knowledge to attendees, being a reasonably longtime user of Arch Linux.

Only the other day I was invited by one of the organisers to a re-run of the event. I fully intend to attend, as with a few more people there, this event format feels like it could be very successful.

My thanks goes out to the organisers: the event was a great opportunity to talk to people about the Mozilla story, and meet some ‘real life’ Firefox users and help and discuss problems they had (one of which I intend to blog about when I get round to it).

Both images by David Fear used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Joshua Cranmer: Announcing jsmime 0.2

Mozilla planet - sn, 05/04/2014 - 19:18
Previously, I've been developing JSMime as a subdirectory within comm-central. However, after discussions with other developers, I have moved the official repository of record for JSMime to its own repository, now found on GitHub. The repository has been cleaned up and the feature set for version 0.2 has been selected, so that the current tip on JSMime (also the initial version) is version 0.2. This contains the feature set I imported into Thunderbird's source code last night, which is to say support for parsing MIME messages into the MIME tree, as well as support for parsing and encoding email address headers.

Thunderbird doesn't actually use the new code quite yet (as my current tree is stuck on a mozilla-central build error, so I haven't had time to run those patches through a last minute sanity check before requesting review), but the intent is to replace the current C++ implementations of nsIMsgHeaderParser and nsIMimeConverter with JSMime instead. Once those are done, I will be moving forward with my structured header plans which more or less ought to make those interfaces obsolete.

Within JSMime itself, the pieces which I will be working on next will be rounding out the implementation of header parsing and encoding support (I have prototypes for Date headers and the infernal RFC 2231 encoding that Content-Disposition needs), as well as support for building MIME messages from their constituent parts (a feature which would be greatly appreciated in the depths of compose and import in Thunderbird). I also want to implement full IDN and EAI support, but that's hampered by the lack of a JS implementation I can use for IDN (yes, there's punycode.js, but that doesn't do StringPrep). The important task of converting the MIME tree to a list of body parts and attachments is something I do want to work on as well, but I've vacillated on the implementation here several times and I'm not sure I've found one I like yet.

JSMime, as its name implies, tries to work in as pure JS as possible, augmented with several web APIs as necessary (such as TextDecoder for charset decoding). I'm using ES6 as the base here, because it gives me several features I consider invaluable for implementing JavaScript: Promises, Map, generators, let. This means it can run on an unprivileged web page—I test JSMime using Firefox nightlies and the Firefox debugger where necessary. Unfortunately, it only really works in Firefox at the moment because V8 doesn't support many ES6 features yet (such as destructuring, which is annoying but simple enough to work around, or Map iteration, which is completely necessary for the code). I'm not opposed to changing it to make it work on Node.js or Chrome, but I don't realistically have the time to spend doing it myself; if someone else has the time, please feel free to contact me or send patches.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet