Gordon P. Hemsley

Linguist by day. Web developer by night.

Posts Tagged ‘Ubiquity’

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.

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My Foray into Mozilla Education

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on February 14, 2009

I’ve recently rebooted this blog based on a suggestion by David Humphrey (humph) of Mozilla Education (wiki) during a discussion in #education. I’ll now be using it blog about my endeavors across the Internet related to software development (particularly the open source kind), as well as any other coding experiences I may have (including website development).

I’m excited to get involved with Mozilla Education, because that means I’ll be able to put my new Linguistics major to work (I’m currently attending the University of Vermont), while also building upon my 10 years of web development—not to mention being able to contribute to a community that I’ve been following and wanting to get involved with for those same 10 years. (I used Netscape 4 back in the day, was thrilled when Netscape 6 came out, soon switched to Mozilla Application Suite, and was finally convinced to switch to Firefox, where I’ve been ever since.)

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be working with humph and others to decide where I’ll best fit. He suggested that I start with getting familiar with Ubiquity, so that I can perhaps help with their development of their natural language processing engine. He also mentioned the possibility of improving the tools that the localization team uses to translate Mozilla products into languages other than English, particularly via the Web. In the meantime, though, I have to brush up on my JavaScript, because it is an integral part of most Mozilla products, especially Ubiquity.

So I hope this will be a good experience for me, and I hope that I will be able to contribute something that other people will consider useful in the course of their using (or developing) Mozilla products.

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