MozSummit 2013: One Helluva Experience !!

I was excited about the mozsummit the day I had heard this news, as this was going to be my first one :). Mozilla Summit 2013 was from October 3rd to October 7th and this year’s summit took place in three locations around the world:  Santa Clara (US), Toronto (Canada), and Brussels (Belgium). Glad I was able to travel a bit and make it to Toronto. Now that I am back home, I wanted to share my summit experience. My blog may not capture all the goodness that was happening but I have highlighted what I enjoyed the most.

What is this “MozSummit”, btw ? Well, after my first experience I could sum it up as a Mozilla family event where people across the globe working on this project get together, celebrate our achievements, understand where we stand, outline existing challenges, propose next steps of how to overcome them, and share lots of creative ideas on the next big thing.

The planning for the summit had started way back in May and I was looking for every opportunity to involve myself and help out wherever I can. Marcia Knous introduced me to the sitehost opportunity and that’s how I became one and helped out with the summit preparations.

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The first day (Friday, Oct 4) was kicked-off with some amazing keynotes by our visionaries followed by the world fair, which had participants across the globe showcasing projects. I met an amazing team from Tunisia who wrote a Geo-location based Firefox OS app which basically displayed the prayer times in any timezone (https://github.com/anefzaoui/PrayerTimes-FirefoxOS). Another interesting idea that I loved was the MozBus – a hi-tech bus which had all the infrastructure to deliver the web to anyone at anytime and anywhere !! Now, how cool is that ?!?!

Then I headed to lead my open session “Recent and Future Releases”. We had a group of almost fifteen people attend the session and we started-off with discussion on existing release cycle and recent improvements done with rapid beta releases. After this we dived into the couple train model”. Due to the diverse audience at the session I was able to collect good feedback on the proposal which was my goal here. Finally, we discussed a little about Firefox OS Releases and its quarterly release strategy.

After the action packed day, we had a wonderful Firefox OS dinner reception followed by karaoke (the crowd went wild & I realized “some” of those singers up there had an alternate career option, if ever needed, haha )

The second day (Saturday, Oct 5) started off with interesting presentations, awesome gaming demo’s and speeches. We then headed to the Innovation fair where lots of people were demoing their work. I helped out the “Metro” team who are currently working on a touch friendly version of Firefox for windows 8. We got a couple of laptops/tablets and showcased the work. People were really excited about the new product and we got a lot of positive feedback. After this, I headed my way to help with the arrangements for Understanding the Servo Strategy session. I particularly had no clue what this new technology was all about and wanted to learn, hence the pick. Then we had the world fare dinner (yes, cuisines from around the world by top chefs) after which we were gearing up for the social events that night. I went to watch the friendly ice hockey match played between Mozillians. This was the first time I was seeing a hockey game and was super excited. Kim Moir and Margaret did a great job explaining the rules to me and it was so much fun ! After the match Kim, Armen and myself walked around the streets for the Nuit Blanche festival where art and music kept us entertained for the night ahead.

With so much going on the previous night, waking up on the Sunday (Oct 6) morning was challenging. But I pushed myself out of bed to get breakfast and reached to the conference hall where the first session was “Turning Ideas into Action”. In this, people were encouraged to choose any of the products or projects (which were predefined) and work into small groups and had to come up with concrete ideas that we could act upon post discussion. I chose the webmaker group where we focused on “Webmaker – teach and mentor discussion”. The reason I chose this was – teaching/mentoring was one of the things that I was interested in and was not actively involved recently. So this seemed a perfect opportunity to get back into it. After the discussion I came up with an action item on myself to be a MozRep and participate in the web maker events to teach people about the web. I’ve particularly been thinking of doing events specific to my home country, India, where, in some parts, internet is still a new system for so many people. After this thoughtful session I geared up for my next session “Working with Partners” which I was co-facilitating with Lawrence Mandel. This session focused on discussing challenges, positive learning’s and taking suggestions from the group who have had experience or were interested in learning how Mozilla is working with corporate partners to deliver Firefox OS. I will share those experiences in a separate blog post.

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To sum up my Summit : It was a lot of learning, a bit of teaching, having a face/personal feel about all those people I’ve just spoken over email/irc/vidyo, came out with new ideas, better understanding of Mozilla’s culture, meeting contributors, made new friends, tightened existing bonds, understanding of new technologies, getting to see so many cool projects that Mozilla is working on and having some fun time with Mozillians :)

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Mozilla Stability Workweek 2013

The second annual Stability workweek (2013) was held in Mountain View during August 19 – August 23. Along with the core Stability team, several folks across Mozilla’s functional areas participated in this workweek. The goal of this workweek was to revisit current stability processes, fill gaps (if any), improve tooling to help with the ongoing browser stability efforts and to discuss integration of Firefox OS.

Two differentiating things at this workweek :

  • Diversity of participants – The cross-functional group consisted of members from stability group, socorro (back-end and front-end), core developers (folks from the java script team, memory management and graphics), quality assurance, security, user advocacy, user interface, project managers, release managers, technical account manager (TAM), mobile, Firefox OS etc making it an interesting mixed audience which led to diverse input and a lot of great ideas
  • Workweek format – Alex Keybl and Robert Kaiser designed the workweek in such a way that, the first half of the week concentrated heavily on discussions and the second half was more hands-on to give us time for :
    • Analyzing all the goodness that came out from the initial brainstorming
    • Filing necessary bugs
    • Assigning owners to each action so we don’t drop the ball on items that were prioritized

 Key Discussions and Take-aways :

  • Met with the graphics team and discussed on efforts that can be taken to improve crashes that are peculiar to certain graphics cards (Example : Build specific AMD Radeon Crasher)
  • OutOfMemory(OOM)/Empty crashes – we get around 15-20% of Empty crash reports most of them being OOM’s. Below are some thoughts on attacking this problem :
    • Annotation on OS,build architecture,”how many tabs were open” etc - bug 838061
    • Annotate the slow script dialog – bug 907993
    • Annotate or show events like Firefox or Microsoft releases on the crash chart
    • Narrow down the cause of crash by correlating signature summary to the hardware information –  graphic chipset and driver, hardware, cpu etc
  • Met socorro end-users to get feedback on crash-stats that we have today, understand their pain points and consider proposals to improve socorro to further benefit them. Below are a few planned actions in this area :
    • Benjamin Smedberg to come up with a flowchart explaining : how to get complex data (core dumps) that you need for crash investigation which may not be readily available, tips on next steps useful when debugging
    • Look up output (bug 818069 ) and a lot more improvements on stack-walking when investigating complex crash scenarios
    • Making elastic search queries more flexible for customized results
  • Met with the security team and discussed ideas on different ways we could incorporate fuzzer test cases
  • Integration of crash data to Firefox Health Report (FHR) and correlate this data to provide useful tips to our users who may be experiencing crashes
  • Rethinking “Socorro” – Interesting discussion on how we store crashes, querying the database, running better analytics and evaluating the need for HBase and the problems around it
  • Revisit “TopCrash” criteria – we currently classify a bug as a topcrash based on the criteria. Discussion on tweaking the existing metric to incorporate crash-volume, number of impacted users, type of crash, startup crash, bug comments etc
  • Coalescing signatures associated with the same bug # in socorro and determine the topcrash ranking based on that information (bug 717797)
  • Improving user support for our users who are experiencing crashes by trying some of the following :
    • Embed support article in the crash report
    • Sending custom emails to the user with information on resolution to their issue
    • Develop a magic 8 ball API in socorro which will help determine crash reasons, process 100% of crashes etc to better improve overall support – bug 915667

Discussion & Take-aways for Firefox OS (Fx OS) :

  • Creating a per-partner view for crash-stats which will aid in giving a clear picture in the stability efforts. This will also help get partner attention on debugging/investigating key crashes
  • Ability to detect OutOfMemory (OOM’s) situation that lead to hangs vs crashes
  • Simplifying the current upload symbol process  to a web based tool so partners can easily upload symbol files
  • Improving Fx OS crash-reporting to have per-device and per-build reports that are readily available via crash-stats
  • Having a CrashMeNow app for easier testing of end-end crash reporting
  • Implement about:crashes, about:gaia-crashes

Phew ! that’s a lot. I’ve tried to limit this post to a high level overview of all the interesting topics discussed at the workweek. You can find all the details on each session on this wiki.

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