Mozilla Italia at Fa’ la cosa giusta 2013

Last weekend, March 15-17, Mozilla Italia took part in Fa’ la cosa giusta 2013 in Milan (Fa’ la cosa giusta means Do the right thing!). For our association this was the fourth time in this particular event: we participated from 2007 to 2009, then we moved to Florence for a couple of years (event called “Terra Futura”) and took a break in 2012. In Milan there were six active members from our community, which is quite a gathering considering how spread we are through Italy, and two guests who helped us during these three days.

Mozilla Italia a Fa' la cosa giusta 2013

Citing from the official site: Fa’ la cosa giusta is a fair about ethical consumerism and sustainable living, with over 700 exhibitors hosted on 29,000 square meters. This year edition had more than 72,000 visitors, among them 3,300 students from 17 different schools.
The number of tech-related exhibitors is always quite limited: for example near our booth there was an area where people from Ubuntu and Document Foundation had talks about their communities and their products, there were also other realities like a lab which takes in old IT hardware (printers, computers, etc.) and restore them, or even low cost 3D printers (Waspproject).

Taking part in this kind of events, compared to more tech-oriented exhibitions, has some positive aspects. For example trying to explain the Open Web, or the importance of web standards and diversity to people who can’t really understand the difference between a browser and a search engine is quite a challenge (Q: “What software do you use to browse the Internet?” A: “I use Google.”). At the end of these three days we welcomed a lot of people at our booth, even a couple of puppies: some of them wanted help for some problems they were having with Firefox or Thunderbird, some others wanted to know more about Mozilla or just say hello to us.

More frequently questions: what is Mozilla? Why are you here, how do you fit in? In some ways answering this last question was the most interesting: what Mozilla does, how Firefox and all other products are created by a non-profit organization and a unique community equally built on employees and volunteers from around the world, what we do as an association in Italy, how our ideals and principles help creating and driving initiatives like WebMaker or WebFWD. And then see these people agree with us :-)

Fa' la costa giusta 2013 - Mozilla Italia

On Saturday and Sunday the main point of interest was this developer phone running Firefox OS. A lot of people stopped by to see and try the phone: some of them knew the project, thanks to the good coverage of the last MWC 2013 in Barcellona, others didn’t know it at all and wanted to understand what Mozilla is working on. Again, there were questions a lot more frequent than others:

  • How and when will Firefox OS be commercialized? Distribution should start soon in some countries (e.g. Spain, Brazil, Poland, etc.), and then cover other areas. In the meantime people, in particular those interested in developing Apps for the new OS, can try Firefox OS with an emulator or desktop builds.
  • When will Firefox OS be available in Italy? Well, we don’t know ;-) Personally I hope at some point during 2014, considering that Telecom Italia is listed among the partners on the official page.
  • Will I be able to install Firefox OS on my phone and replace Android/Windows? It depends, but it can’t be excluded given the open nature of the project.

I made a set of photos on Flickr, considering the amount of people stopping at our booth I wasn’t really able to shot many photos. Enough said: at the end of those two days I almost had no voice left ;-)

What needs to happen before you open your eyes?

As already happened in the past on this blog, this is a guest post from my friend Iacopo Benesperi (iacchi), a long-standing member of the Italian Mozilla community. I agree with him that we’re living hard times, what’s happening inside our (small) community is probably happening elsewhere. And if it’s not clear, this post is here because we still care about Mozilla and its future ;-)

This last has been a hard year for the Mozilla world, in many ways. What is left of this year, among other things, is a very tense situation; a feeling of estrangement in many people, a sour taste in the mouth.
It’s not hard to notice it: you can see it in a good bye letter due to a resignation; you can see it in more and more posts on the planet; you can see it in mail exchanges or chats with other community members; you can see it in long time community members leaving because they don’t believe anymore in what Mozilla is doing; you can see it in all the blog posts of lovers of the free (as in freedom) Web who, because of this reason, care about Mozilla; you can see it in the comments of normal, non-techie users on your national forum, people that choosed Mozilla not necessarily because it’s better, but because it’s different; you can see it in the words of an extension writer, saying that he’ll stop updating his extensions because it’s become impossible for him to keep the pace; you can see it almost everywhere. Everything you need to do to notice it is to open your eyes and start paying attention on what’s around you.

In this last year Mozilla has lost many people but many, many more are the ones who are just an inch away from leaving; people who stay because they care so much about Mozilla and the Manifesto, who think that they can still fight to push everything back on the right path, on what they believe is the right path.
I won’t say here what’s wrong and what should be done, it’s all written already. What I will say here is that if you keep going this way, when (not if) all the people mentioned above will leave Mozilla, or stop believing in it, you may even be able to keep working somehow; but from that moment on, every success (what you consider as a success, anyway) you’ll get, if you will get some, will be a Mozilla Company success, the Mozilla Project being dead already. You’ll may even be able to win the browser war in the future, going on this way, but you’ll have lost your soul in the process.

Mozilla Italia & SUMO in Geneva

This is the presentation we did, as Mozilla Italia, during the first great EU Intercommunity Meetup in Geneva.

In the last year I joined several Mozilla meetings – Whistler and Barcelona in 2008, Fosdem and Geneva in 2009 – and I feel that this last one in Geneva had the best format in terms of “productivity”: few people, around 20, with common experiences and problems can really try to identify and solve problems.

I have a lot of things to think about for the next months: localized Litmus (and localized tests) to expand the local QA community, how to reproduce in our site the “tasks” used by the Mozilla Hispano guys to track unfinished or new works, effective ways to involve new contributors (see also the previous post).

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Local communities, always the same faces?

This post will probably end up as a stream of disconnected thoughts more than a well structured analysis, but it’s something that has bothered me for months and it’s quite difficult to choose a starting point and not to get lost in the middle.

The problem is easy: is your local Mozilla community growing? If not, what are you doing to involve new people in the project?

I started contributing to the Italian community at the very beginning of 2004 (the community was just born), trying to help other people as a simple user on the local support forum.  Soon I became a moderator and then an administrator of the forum, after that I started working also on localization: first the integrated Firefox help, then web projects (Mozilla Europe, AMO) and now also software products (Firefox and Fennec).

It’s more than five years of active contribution to the Italian community. Why? Since I liked what Mozilla was (is) giving to me for free – Firebird and Mozilla Suite at that time – I wanted to give something back to the project: since I’m not a programmer but an advanced user, fond of my language, I contributed with support and localization.

If that was possible for me and a lot of the current contributors of the Italian community, why is so difficult to involve new people? Not counting that older contributors can stop helping for different reasons (personal, work, change of priorities), while the number of projects to maintain keeps growing.

Here’s a lot of questions, very few answers.

  • Is this a specific problem of the Italian community? For what I see on the mailing lists (dev.l10n and dev.l10n.web), I don’t recognize a lot of new names, so I’m thinking that maybe it’s a problem also for other wide communities.
  • Is this a specific Mozilla problem? Maybe the Mozilla project, seen from the outside, seems too big or too complex, and people interested in free software and Open Source choose to invest their time in contributing to smaller projects?
  • People got used to “having things for free” and don’t even think about contributing?
  • They don’t know how to contribute, or even that they can do it?

Honestly, for what I saw in the last year I’m not very confident about the future and that’s why I keep asking to myself: how can we change this trend? Looking forward to discussing these issues during the upcoming community-meeting :-)

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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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Photos from Fa’ la cosa giusta 2009

Fa' la cosa giusta 2009

You can see on Flickr the complete set of photos that I took yesterday at Fa’ la cosa giusta in Milan (Italy).

It was a real pleasure to see again in person the other guys from the Italian localization project (we are spread all over the country, so it’s quite hard for us to meet all together in one place), and also our international guest William :-)

Thanks to all for the great fun day!

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