Since 2006, I've probably tried every possible role as a Google Summer of Code participant: accepted student, rejected student, submitter of a rejected organization application, mentor of successful students, mentor of a failing student, co-administrator, and now administrator. Here's my story:
- In 2006, I had the pleasure of being selected to participate as a student for the Mozilla organization. The work I did on the Page Info dialog eventually shipped as part of Firefox 3.0.
- In 2007 I applied as a student again, to a different organization, but unfortunately wasn't selected. However, I received an email from someone from the organization who told me the application was good and they would have liked to take me as a student if they had received more slots. He offered to mentor me if I decided to move forward with the project anyway, which I did! I completed the project and in October 2007, Instantbird 0.1 was released. Instantbird is a cross platform, easy to use, instant messaging client based on Mozilla technologies.
- In 2007, I was selected by Mozilla for an internship in the Firefox team, and spent the end of the year in their headquarters in Mountain View, California. I think this was in large part because people were happy about the work I did in 2006 as a Summer of Code student.
- In 2008, 2009 and 2010, I focused on Instantbird, which had a growing community of volunteers improving it every day. I sent Summer of Code organization applications on behalf of the Instantbird community, but they weren't accepted. When I asked for feedback, I was told that we should try to work with Mozilla.
- In 2012, I mentored another student, who did some excellent work on improving the user experience for new users during the first run of Instantbird.
- In 2013, Gerv, who had been handling Summer of Code for Mozilla since the beginning in 2005, asked me if I would be interested in eventually replacing him as an Administrator. After some discussion, I accepted the offer, and we agreed to have a transition period. In 2013, I was backup administrator. I also mentored for the third year in a row. Unfortunately I had to fail my student. This was frustrating, but also a learning experience.
- In 2014, I submitted the Summer of Code organization application on behalf of Mozilla, it was accepted and we are looking forward to another great summer of code!
- On a more personal note, after being a Mozilla volunteer for years (since 2004), working on the Thunderbird team (from 2011 to 2012), and then on WebRTC apps (since October 2012), I'm starting in March 2014 as a full time engineer in the Firefox team. Which is the team for which I was a Summer of Code student, 8 years ago.
It's pretty much a given that Friday is the best day of the week. Monday maybe the worst and Wednesday is "hump day". In fact for many people Sunday is the most stressful night of the week, it presents anxiety and stress about the upcoming week.
I've been in jobs that I didn't enjoy and I can understand this. The dread of checking your email and finding emails full of problems, issues that need to be addressed and so on. It's not a good place to be.
But at the moment? It's the opposite way round, by Friday I'm a bit fried from a weeks work, I really look forward to a weekend away from work and time to spend with the family. A chance to clear the brain.
By the time Monday comes around? I'm actually pumped, Monday is full of promise and excitement about the things that are going to get accomplished. The bugs that will be fixed, the problems solved. Nothing but hope and excitement about what will happen that week.
I think I'm pretty lucky.
Who is this optimistic person and what has he done with Andy McKay?
I regret to report that as I leave my friends place in Tennessee, I leave them with very unstable broadband. In my last posting, I reported that we managed to get 28Mps broadband connection the house. That lasted only for a day, and suddenly our source Verizon WiFi hotspot failed to deliver that bandwidth.
I had no idea that cell service was so variable over time. The same equipment that gave us a consistent 4G four bar signal on Monday, now can only get a 3G two bar signal today. In the last forty-eight hours we've been lucky to get an intermittent 200Kbps signal.
We've canvassed the ridge looking for a new location for the WiFi hotspot and finally found a place that consistently delivers a 1Mbps 3G signal. Interestingly, this a place that delivered essentially a zero signal on Monday. The variability of signal strength at a given spot is a serious impediment to success of this project.
Since I leave tomorrow, I'm out of time. There's not much more than I can do on this visit. My hosts are still pleased with the results. The bandwidth is forty-five times faster than the old 28.8Kbps of the old system.
We'll see how this works for the long run. Maybe it will settle into a more consistent pattern. However, I wonder how that will change as Spring comes and the heavily timbered forest of the area leafs out.
I've briefed my hosts on the necessity to monitor the bandwidth and move the hot spot. I had hoped that this would be a set it and forget it installation, but fear this will be a system that will need constant baby sitting.