Gordon P. Hemsley

Linguist by day. Web developer by night.

Posts Tagged ‘Mozilla’

Linguistics and the Open Web

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on May 15, 2011

Last Saturday, I gave a talk entitled Linguistics and the Open Web at HULLS 2011, the first-annual Hunter [College] Undergraduate Linguistics and Language Studies Conference, organized by the Hunter College Linguistics Club. My talk kicked off the event, at which undergraduate students presented their research. (I later joked that it perhaps should have been called HULA, for “Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics and Activism”, because many of the student talks—including my own—were more of a call to action than particularly academic research… but I digress.) The keynote speakers were Doug Bigham and Ben Zimmer. Click through to the Linguistics Club site to see the full program of talks.

This talk was the first step in my attempt to somehow tie together my open-source/Mozilla life with the linguistics that I have really come to love over these past two years. I think it’s a good first step.

And it was nice to finally meet in person a lot of the people that I had previously known only through Twitter. And, actually, it’s good to know that my rate of meeting such people is increasing. I’ve only know most of them for about year, as opposed to the 7 or so it took to meet the Mozilla and phpBB folks last year.

My talk was only allotted 15 minutes, so it’s rather brief, but I think the slides I’ve made available get across much of what my talk did. It tries to answer these three questions:

  • What is the Open Web?
  • How does the Open Web relate to linguistics?
  • What can I do to participate in the Open Web?

I hope to be able to expand and improve this talk in the future. (It already includes a separate print stylesheet, so if you want to print it out, it comes out pretty.)

In fact, I’ve released it under CC-BY-NC-SA and I plan to put it on GitHub or something so that maybe we could even get it translated into a bunch of languages! And if you want to give the talk yourself, feel free. (Just drop me a line to let me know.)

Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Posted in Linguistics, Mozilla, Open Source | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Catching up with myself

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on January 23, 2011

Oh, hello Internet. Long time, no see. (That is, if this is the only way you keep track of me. I’ve been tweeting a bit more than I blog.)

This post is basically to bring you up to speed on what’s been going on since my last post, back in July. (I never was a very good blogger, you know. This is actually pretty good for me.)

A lot has happened since then, actually.

First off, I’m no longer working with the Bespin folks—I’m not sure I ever mentioned that. Though I felt a bit guilty about it, I made the decision around the time of the Summit, and I wound up not spending a whole lot of time with them while. (I was running out of things I could help with, anyway, with my JavaScript skills being as poor as they are.) During the Summit, it was announced that Bespin would be changing its name to Skywriter. It was a bit of an insider secret until it was officially announced a few months later, but that doesn’t even matter now. Mozilla decided to change direction slightly and focus more on developer tools as a whole. This decision eventually led up to what happened just the other day: Skywriter has merged with the Ajax.org Cloud9 Editor (ACE). This is the best of both worlds, at it puts the project in the hands of developers better equipped to take care of it, while also ensuring that the original Bespin/Skywriter work does not go to waste.

I also haven’t been much involved with Ubiquity since the release of 0.6. I do believe satyr continues to maintain it, but I don’t know if it will ever see another “official” release. (Satyr has always made snapshot releases directly from the repository, though.) It also doesn’t seem like Taskfox will emerge any time soon. It’s certainly not on the agenda (nobody’s working on it), and the new Panorama (formally TabCandy) is the primary focus of Mitcho, Aza, and others. If all goes according to plan, that will likely be my favorite feature of Firefox 4. (Of course, by the time Firefox 4 comes out, I’ll probably be using Firefox 4.next. I’ve been running 4.0 nightlies for a while now. Probably ever since TabCandy was merged to trunk, now that I think about it.) So I spend some of my days bothering the folks in #tabcandy, complaining about things they usually already know about.

But I do try to make myself useful, too. I’ve attempted to increase my involvement with the Mozilla.org team, as at least there I have the relevant skillset. Unfortunately, it’s been somewhat slow-going. I spent a lot of time at the Summit chasing Reed around trying to get reviews. But Reed is always super busy—thus, I’m still waiting on those reviews. (And I’m not the only one.) So I’ve offered to try to help carry some of the load, in terms of reviewing patches for the Mozilla.org website(s). So, I finally applied for (albeit very limited) commit access—some 6 and a half years since I filed my first Mozilla-related bug. I faxed my Committer Agreement in about a week ago, and hopefully the rest will be handled in the next week or so. I’m quite excited to be able to make a contribution that’s more than removing unused variables or adding half-working tab support.

But my life, unfortunately, has not completely revolved around Mozilla in this past half a year. I finished another semester of school, and the final semester of my undergraduate career (well, the first one, at least) begins on the 31st. On June 2nd, I will finally have a Bachelor’s Degree—in Linguistics. What happens after that, I’m not sure. These past two months have been hectic, as I’ve been applying to graduate schools for linguistics. Though I continue to be torn as to whether I really want to spend the next five years doing more linguistics (what does one do with a Ph.D. in linguistics, besides more linguistics?), my biggest annoyance thus far has been the cost. Between the application fees, the GRE score fees, and transcript fees(!), this process has cost me hundreds and hundreds of dollars! (Oh, and for a procrastinator like me, having to rely on—and worry about—other people’s schedules has been very difficult. There’s no turning an application in the night before if you also need recommendation letters from three other people.)

On the bright side, I have been gathering a lot of linguistics-related ideas that I want to blog about. I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to do that—some of them are not more than a couple of sentences, so I may spew a bunch out at a time. I’ve also gotten involved with a new project designed to bring linguistics to the masses, à la Scientific American or Popular Mechanics: Popular Linguistics Online. I’ll be writing some things for them, as well as helping out with some of the technical stuff behind the scenes. Everything is very much in the early stages over there, but there is an issue out already, so I encourage you to check it out!

P.S. Please forgive the overuse of the word “so”. It’s 4:30 in the morning.

Posted in Linguistics, Mozilla | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ubiquity 0.6 Released!

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on July 21, 2010

About a week and a half ago, the Ubiquity team (I’m the one in red) had a little meeting at the 2010 Mozilla Summit and we discussed the past, present, and future of Ubiquity.

One of the main goals of this meeting, in my mind, was to get a new release of Ubiquity out, so that the greater masses could be exposed to all the wonderful work satyr has been doing over the past many months. After being reprimanded by the hotel staff no less than twice, we finally were able to get down and discuss the logistics of that. We had a couple of issues to deal with. For one, there were still a number of users on the 0.1.x branch of Ubiquity, despite the 0.5.x branch being available for quite a while, and the reasons for this included a lot of backwards compatibility issues: the 0.5.x branch used a new parser that could break some of the older, 0.1.x commands; the 0.5.x branch didn’t properly support Firefox 3.6; etc. And there was also the issue of the 0.5.x branch never being released on AMO, leaving many users unaware that it even existed.

So, originally, the idea was to release satyr’s code as 0.5.5—simply an extension of the 0.5.x branch. However, a number of people on the team felt it best to bump the version up to 0.6, and I didn’t disagree, given the aforementioned issues. And since we were attempting to clean the slate as best as possible with regard to backwards compatibility, I also suggested that we bump the minVersion up to Firefox 3.6 for Ubiquity 0.6, from 3.5 (which probably still works). This had the added benefit of allowing people stuck on Firefox 3.5 to keep plodding happily along with the 0.1.x branch (which has now—finally—been discontinued).

Before I continue, let me just point you to Ubiquity 0.6 on AMO so that you can download if you don’t already have it.

If you allow me to briefly jump ahead a bit, it was soon discovered that Jono (who had access to the AMO account, and who was charged with packaging the release) could not remember his Hg password. I don’t know if that has since been rectified, but the bottom line was that all the changes he made in order to package up the release could not be committed to the Ubiquity repository. So that left the repo and the released 0.6 package as differing from each other. (I think satyr has mostly restored those changes to the repo, but that was only within the past few days.) So releasing Ubiquity 0.6 was quite the event—and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that we completely sprung it on satyr! (I’d told him a few weeks earlier that I was gunning for it to happen, but he had no idea the meeting was even going down.)

Now back to the meeting, where we also discussed the future of Ubiquity. One of the most forefront targets, I think, would be rewriting Ubiquity as a JetPack (or at least with a JetPack wrapper). That would allow much more uniformity across the Ubiquity codebase, as well as giving Ubiquity access to all JetPack has to offer. Mitcho and cers attempted to take the first step towards that goal (that being the wrapper) during the JetPack Hack-A-Thon at the Summit, but ran out of time. So that work still needs to be done.

At the meeting, we also discussed resurrecting the effort to make Ubiquity more ubiquitous (Aza’s pun) by getting it incorporated into Firefox as Taskfox. I don’t recall what the first steps for getting that done are, but I think it’d be a worthy task.

So, at the end of the meeting, I (and, I think, the others) came out seeing the future of Ubiquity as brighter than we previously thought. All we need now are some brilliant, dedicated developers to make it happen. Unfortunately, many of said developers are spending their time with more high-priority tasks: Jono is working on Test Pilot; Mitcho and Aza are working on TabCandy; Atul and cers are working on JetPack. And these are all extremely worthy tasks. But if you want to help out with Ubiquity, don’t hesitate to drop by the #ubiquity channel on the Mozilla IRC server!

Posted in Linguistics, Mozilla | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do you use Ubiquity?

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on June 16, 2010

As you may or may not know, Ubiquity is officially “on hiatus”. That means that the official Mozilla Labs team is not currently working on it at the moment. Unfortunately, when they made that decision, the latest released version of Ubiquity (0.5.4) was not compatible with Firefox 3.6.

Luckily, community member Satyr Murky (satyr) decided to keep maintaining Ubiquity (all alone!) and was able to bring it to a state where it works in Firefox 3.6 and even the latest trunk builds off mozilla-central (mostly). Satyr also fixed a number of bugs that were present, beyond support for the latest versions of Firefox. Unfortunately, none of Satyr’s fixes have been made officially: Ubiquity has been wallowing in dev-only land in an Hg repository, downloadable only from a BitBucket attachment.

But now Ubiquity 0.5.5 is just about ready (see bug 528417), and I’d like to see it get released. Who’s with me?

Do you use Ubiquity? Which version? (The older 0.1.x line works fine on Firefox 3.6—did you downgrade your Ubiquity?) Did you know about the developmental version? (Your add-on updater didn’t tell you about it, after all.) Or were you too scared to install it? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Mozilla | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Calling all HTML5 and Bugzilla enthusiasts!

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on February 20, 2010

Earlier in the week, I went through the process of filing and fixing bugs 546338 and 546340, both related to fixing <a name> problems in Bugzilla. Once that was successful, I got the idea to do a major overhaul of the Bugzilla templates in order to upgrade them from HTML4 code to HTML5 code (sans presentational markup, which Bugzilla has a ton of). I’ve filed bugs 546838, 547171, 546353, 547311, and 547389 for this purpose.

After spending a few days attempting to accomplish something, under the very helpful and reassuring guidance of Max Kanat-Alexander, I realized that it was a bit much for one person to take on. The sheer number of instances of presentational markup (and I only got so far as looking at @align, @cellspacing, and @cellpadding) is quite overwhelming.

But then I thought: This would be a perfect series of bugs for ‘student-project‘; that is, the keyword used to attract open source students to specific bugs that they can tackle during a semester. If we can get a group of students together, along with myself and Max, we can probably accomplish this much quicker.

If you’re interested in helping out, or you know a student who may fit that description, drop by #mozwebtools on irc.mozilla.org and ping GPHemsley or mkanat.

Posted in Mozilla, Web Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SVN Support in Bespin

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on August 10, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I kicked off the addition of SVN support to Bespin (bug 493038). This required two things: One was the actual ability to choose which VCS you’re using, as it defaulted to Hg and the auto-detection was primitive and long since functional. (There were rumors that it had even been missing from the code for a while already.) But that was the relatively easy part, as it was mostly just manipulating HTML.

The (relatively) harder part was writing the code that would do the actual work with SVN. (VCS support in Bespin is powered by UVC.) A factor in this difficulty was that the backend code is written in Python, which I’m not especially familiar with. Nevertheless, the process was actually simplified by the way things are set up, because I was able to copy the Hg code and just modify to fit the SVN commands. I was able to add basic checkout, commit, and update support, as well as username/password authentication. Kevin later came in and finished up the push/commit differentiation, among other things. I believe SSH support still needs to be done, but we’re looking for a method to use to do it. (Kevin has suggested using environmental variables, as SVN does not have the ability to pass SSH details via command line, like Hg does.)

Kevin and the other Bespin folks are in the process of getting the 0.4.0 release out the door today or in the next couple of days, and that will include this support for SVN, as well as collaboration.

Posted in Mozilla, Open Source | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Online Video Editing Using HTML5 <video>?

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on April 30, 2009

This thought just popped into my head a couple a seconds ago, so I thought I’d throw it out there. Has anyone considered (or is anyone actively developing) an online video editing service that takes advantage of all the nice use features afforded by HTML5’s <video> tag? It just seems like it would be the perfect thing to do, especially with support in the upcoming Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4 releases.

Any thoughts?

Update: WTF? WordPress doesn’t automatically escape HTML symbols in post titles?!

Update 2: Nor does it support <small> tags in its posts?!

Posted in Mozilla, Open Source, Web Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dropping Support for Mac OS X 10.4 in Firefox

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on April 27, 2009

When I posted in the topic on mozilla.dev.planning about dropping support for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) in the next version of Firefox after 3.5 (to be powered by Gecko 1.9.2), I was merely trying my viewpoint as a user of that operating system that likes to use the cutting edge of Firefox versions. I wasn’t expecting to anything more than contribute to the discussion.

However, my buddy Google just alerted me that I had been quoted—sandwiched between two slices of Mike Conner (mconner) bread—by Gregg Keizer in an article for ComputerWorld:

“Overall I think there’s a lot of technical reasons why 10.5 should be a new baseline, and the number of users is small and diminishing in any case, so I definitely support this from the Firefox side,” said Michael Connor, one of the company’s software engineers, later in the discussion thread. Connor was the one who jump-started the conversation earlier this month about dropping support for Windows 2000 and versions of Windows XP prior to Service Pack 2.

Not everyone is keen on the idea, however. “Suffice to say, I will be very disappointed if I can’t upgrade to Firefox 3.6 or Firefox 4 next year,” countered Gordon Hemsley, a user who posted to the forum.

Even though he recommended dropping 10.4 support, Connor acknowledged that doing so will irk some Firefox fans. “Users will be [angry]. That’s just the way it works,” he said. “But a huge number of apps seem to be 10.5-only these days anyway, so we’re just another tree in the forest.”

How cool is that?

Posted in Mozilla | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Coding for Tab Awareness in Bespin

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on April 18, 2009

During our last status meeting, I brought up the issue of people not taking tabs (and the fact that they are variable-length characters) into consideration when coding new features that require text manipulation. As a result, I was asked to write a little tutorial on the wiki to help explain the situation to those not familiar with the code.

Take a look at the article. It starts by giving a little background information about the issue. It then makes note of which functions are expecting to be fed modelPos, rather than pos. It then goes on to explain how to obtain the proper position value and other things related to the fact that tabs are variable-length, based upon where they are in a line.

This article outlines the tools that one needs in order to properly consider tabs in text. However, it does not necessarily give step-by-step instructions on how to properly use the code; it has no examples. Is it clear enough to use? Or is there still confusion as to what to do?

Please leave me feedback here, and I’ll make any changes that are necessary to clarify things better. (Alternatively, you could make the edits yourself—it is a wiki, after all—but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that. I mean, I am the one that wrote the original code…. You know, just saying.)

Posted in Mozilla | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quick Bespin Update

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on April 13, 2009

A lot has happened since I last blogged about adding real tab support to Bespin. Since then, my code was merged into the main repository and things have taken off. I later tore apart a huge chunk of Bugzilla by way of sorting through and updating a lot of the old bugs, many of which had been on the books since before Bespin went public, or had been fixed a long time ago. I still have not sorted through all of them, and there are probably still a number of open bugs that fall into that latter category.

Since appointing myself the de facto Issue Manager (hat tip to amotsjonov for the link), I have been watching the incoming bugs like a hawk, and have determined that using the whiteboard to organize bugs has already become too unwieldy. Bespin needs to pop itself out of the Mozilla Labs product so that it can have components of its own. So I’ve filed a bug to that effect. I hope it will get approved and put in place soon, so that I can really attack all of the remaining unloved bugs and narrow down the focus of what there is to do.

Last week was also the first Bespin Status Meeting. After some technical difficulties getting our more foreign correspondents into the call, it went well. We discussed the near and far future of Bespin and what we plan to do. April is dogfood month, so we’re going to have to sort out the most glaring bugs and get the most important features implemented. That way, we’ll be able to use Bespin to edit Bespin. I’m looking forward to it.

Our next meeting is tomorrow. Though the agenda is not quite set yet, I do hope to discuss how things are running, and how to get them running even more smoothly. Perhaps I will chime back in after the meeting with more details.

Posted in Mozilla | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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