Summit 2013 planning assembly: a wonderful begin

Note: this is a guest post from Iacopo Benesperi, a fellow Mozillian from the Italian community.

This week-end took place in Mozilla’s Paris office the Summit 2013 planning assembly: a gathering of about 65 people from all around the world and representing all areas of the Mozilla project, with both paid staff and volunteers, aimed to plan and shape the next Summit, that will take place the first week-end of October in Bruxelles, Toronto and Santa Clara.

TL;DR: it’s been a great assembly. If we manage to accomplish at the next Summit half of the things we’ve discussed in this week-end, it will have been the best Mozilla event ever.

The aim of the assembly was not to define a schedule for the event and fix everything but to talk about which are the important topics that animate the Mozilla project these days, start to discuss them and shape them in a way so that we can come out with a good format for the Summit to address them and try to give and propose solutions for them. To do this, all the planning committee has taken interviews to fellow Mozillians in the last month to have a wider view of which is the temperature of the project in these days and act as a representative for the comments expressed.

I went to Paris without a clear idea of what we would have accomplished there, but I’m impressed with the result we had.
First of all, this assembly was facilitated by people of unconference.net, who proposed a peculiar way to proceed with it. I was a bit skeptic with the method proposed, but it turned out that some of their methods are really great (like unpanel) and we will definitely adopt them for the next Summit, while some others still look like rubbish (I may still be proved wrong).
The second important fact is that we talked little about technology and a lot about Mozilla, its community, its communication (internal and external) and the interactions between its components and people. On one hand, as Gandalf pointed out, this is a sign that we trust implicitly our technology and the fact that it will be discussed at the Summit, because this is a big portion of what Mozilla is about. On the other hand, it’s a sign that there’s a general awareness, not only among community members but also (finally) among employees and paid staff and board of directors that we have communication problems between the different parts of the projects and especially between paid staff and volunteers, and the time is now mature to address and try to solve them. What I’m talking about is not only communication to get things done but also communication related to the decision-making process.

So, it will be interesting to experiment discussions around different time-zones and locations. I will probably post more about the assembly and the planning for the Summit in the next days, when ideas and thoughts will have settled down a bit and I’ll have had the time to read all the ideas and documentation we produced during this two days. What I felt important to communicate immediately is the fact that the next Summit will be a wonderful occasion to talk not only about our technologies but also about who we are, what we want to do and where we want to go. It will be an occasion for the community to teach and mentor the newest community members and more importantly all the new employees to let them understand and feel the power and importance of our community and it will be, in general, an occasion to have our voice finally be heard and taken into consideration not only in the tasks at hand, but in building the new policies and guidelines that will drive all the project in the future.

I’m sure we’ll try, in the next months, to provide some initial information and documentation about what have been discussed and decided so far so that you can arrive at the Summit prepared to give your contribution to the conversation, so that we can take the most out of the Summit and make it really matter in our future.

As I said at the beginning: if we manage to discuss and propose solutions to half of the problems and concerns raised during this two days, we will have had the best Mozilla event ever; one that will have strengthened and made our project more mature.

Once upon a time there was a string freeze… pt.2

Since it probably looks like my favorite hobby is whining without a reason, let’s check what happened so far (always an optimist…) in this cycle.

Broken strings in Mozilla Beta

  • Bug 797036 – Update updater strings and icon
  • Bug 803344 – poor discoverability of the enable/disable menu item for Social API

Landing strings in Beta means that we did something wrong before (haste of moving forward features that weren’t probably ready, “we need this in ESR”, etc.).

Broken strings in Mozilla Aurora

Obviously the two changesets landed on beta, plus:

  • Bug 795691 – b2g fixes for the web console actors
  • Bug 800373 – Change marketplace strings to ‘Firefox Marketplace’

Consider several adding/removing strings both in beta and aurora (e.g. Bug 803630 or Bug 760951) and you’ll get the picture.

Bug 797036 is a good example of how bad we are working on the l10n side lately:

  1. changes land on central on Oct 02 16:34:08 (end of cycle is only 6 days ahead)
  2. the day after I wrote a comment in the bug about the bad review (that’s pure luck, I don’t work on localization every day, and there are very few localizers doing this kind of checks on central)
  3. nobody reacts, bad strings move to aurora and we need to break string freeze

For a starter a better review process could have avoided all this.

Firefox hangs because of malware

In the last few weeks, starting from the end of March, we noticed a strange spike in requests on the Italian support forum. The symptoms described were always the same:

  • Pages stop loading after a few minutes of normal browsing.
  • When the user tries to restart the browser he gets the error message “Firefox is already running but is not responding“.
  • Other browsers on the same system are not affected and work without problems.

Since Firefox stopped working at the same time of the Firefox 3.0.8 release, a lot of people thought that the problem was caused by the last update, so they were searching the best way to go back to a previous version.

The usual solutions were not effective: safe-mode, disable plug-ins, temporarily disable antivirus and firewall, reinstall the last version in a different folder, create a new profile.

From the beginning we were able to restrict the problem to the Windows platform, so we thought of some sort of malware. By the evidences we’ve collected so far, the problem seems to be caused by a variant of the Navipromo Adware, not identified by most of the antivirus softwares (see this virus total’s analysis).

Users found suspect files in the local %Appdata% folder (C:\Documents and Settings\%User%\Local Settings\Application Data on Windows XP, C:\Users\%user%\AppData on Windows Vista):

  • [random_name].exe
  • [name_of_exe].dat
  • [name_of_exe]_nav.dat
  • [name_of_exe]_navps.dat

After killing the .exe process in Task Manager, Firefox returns to its normal behavior.

There are still two unanswered questions:

  • Why does only Firefox (and not other browsers) hang?
  • Why now and so hard in Italy? This adaware seems to be quite old.

If you’re interested, there’s a bug and an ongoing discussion on the SUMO Contributors’ forum.

Thanks to all the guys of the Italian project and SUMO for the support and the great team work of the last days ;-)

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