“Invest in the future, build for the web!”, take 2, at OSOM

I am right now in Cluj-Napoca, in Romania, for OSOM.ro, an small totally non profit volunteer-organised conference. I gave an updated, shorter revised version of the talk I gave at Amsterdam past June. As usual here are the slides and the source for the slides.

It is more or less the same, but better, and I also omitted some sections and spoke a bit about Firefox Developer Edition.

Also I was wearing this Fox-themed sweater which was imbuing me with special powers for sure:

fox sweater

(I found it at H & M past Saturday, there are more animals if foxes aren’t your thing).

There were some good discussions about open source per se, community building and growing. And no, talks were not recorded.

I feel a sort of strange emptiness now, as this has been my last talk for the year, but it won’t be long until other commitments fill that vacuum. Like MozLandia—by this time next week I’ll be travelling to, or already in, Portland, for our work week. And when I’m back I plan to gradually slide into a downward spiral into the idleness. At least until 2015.

Looking forward to meeting some mozillians I haven’t met yet, and also visiting Ground Kontrol again and exploring new coffee shops when we have a break in Portland, though :-)

Using the Firefox Developer Edition dark theme with Nightly

With a recent version of Nightly, go to about:config and set browser.devedition.theme.enabled to true.

Open DevTools (I use alt + cmd + i, or you can also go to the Tools → Web Developer → Toggle tools menu). Then open DevTools preferences by clicking on the gear icon, and select “Dark Theme” on the top right, underneath the Themes.

Screenshot for clarification:

nightly with dev edition theme

Note: you might not get the full effect if there is “legacy stuff” in your profile. If it doesn’t look as you expect… your best option might be to just create a new profile when you start the browser.

Note 2: for some reason the tabs weren’t rendering correctly on my normal nightly profile because the about:config browser.tabs.drawInTitlebar entry was set to false instead of true—I set it to true and now everything looks fine for me.

Or just use the standard Firefox Developer Edition if you’re not an impatient person like me :-P

The ideal talk length

I have been doing a number of talks this year, and each conference has different parameters for what each talk should last. They range between 15-60 minutes. My personal preference is between 20-30 minutes. Those should give enough time to lay out the concepts without rushing it too much, do a bit of a deep dive and finally close down with some conclusions—even allowing for the speaker to hesitate a little bit if need be. 45+ minutes start verging on the “attention span” limit, and I hate both doing those (I end up showing silly stuff because I just cannot be speaking for so long non-stop), and listening to those (I just can’t; my brain zones out unless they are REALLY GOOD).

It’s funny, at the beginning most of the conferences I attended would have sessions of one hour, so they could fit relatively few speakers. They started doing parallel tracks and then they had more speakers and attendees had to choose between speakers. So I guess then single-track conferences pushed for shorter talks so they could have more speakers and people would not need to choose who to listen to.

But… there is a limit on how short you can go. 15 minutes is nothing when your audience is big and diverse–you want to make sure most of them can follow, so you need a moderately sized introduction. Then you don’t have 15 minutes anymore, you might have 9, or 8. You cannot fit too many complex concepts in just 10 minutes. Or well, you can, but most of the people won’t follow, and you might also die because you didn’t breathe in order to fit more words per minute.

Or the speaker, used to longer talks, might feel the topic too complex to really dive into it in such a short amount of time, and ends up just giving a very shallow overview of a topic. If many talks are like that, a conference can feel dull and meh: what did you tell me I didn’t know already?

There were a few comments about this after and before dotJS. The general feeling between speakers was that under 20 minutes is just too short for technical stuff (unless you assume everyone has knowledge of the topic, but then you’re excluding a huge bunch of the audience). The feedback I heard from attendees was that either the talks were too vague, or things were unclear (because there was too much content in too little time).

I would like to encourage some debate on this. Conferences should be about quality and not quantity. If I wanted quantity, I could just lean back on my couch and open YouTube—there are so many talks we can watch nowadays, it’s awesome!

I’ll even go further: what about agreeing with speakers what they think could use, instead of going for a one-size-fits-all solution upfront? Yes, it will be harder to build the timetable, but you’re already curating the content and taking your time—why not spend some more to make sure your speakers don’t stress about talk length and can focus on delivering great content?

Let’s discuss.

Tools for the 21st century musician—super abridged dotJS edition

I attended dotJS yesterday where I gave a very short version of past past week’s talk at Full Frontal (18 minutes versus 40).

The conference happened in a theatre and we were asked not to use bright background so I changed my slides to be darker and classier.

It didn’t really go as smoothly as I expected (a kernel panic a bit before the start of the talk, and I got nervous and distracted so I got more nervous and…), but I guess I can’t always WIN! It was fun to speak in French if only one line, though: Je suis très contente d’être parmi vous!–thanks to Thomas for the assistance in coming up with the perfect presentation line, and Guillaume and Sasha for listening to me repeat it until it resembled passable French!

While the video is edited and released, here’s a sample in the form of slides, online and their source code in GitHub.

It was fun to use CSS filters to invert the images so they would not be a big white block on top of a dark background. Yay CSS filters!

.filter-invert {
    filter: invert(100%) brightness(2);

Also, using them in transitions between slides. I discovered that I could blur between slides. Cinematic effects! (sorta, as I cannot get vertical/horizontal blur). But:

.bespoke-active.emphatic-text {
  filter: none;
.bespoke-inactive.emphatic-text {
  filter: blur(10px);

I use my custom plugin presentation-fullscreen for getting real fullscreen in my slides. It’s on npm:

npm install presentation-fullscreen --save

then just


will add a new option to the contextual menu for making the whole body go fullscreen.

I shall write about this tip and how I use bespoke.js in general, and a couple thoughts and ideas I had during the conference soon. Topics including (so I don’t forget): why a mandatory lack of anonymity is not the solution to doxxing, and the ideal talk length.

Firefox OS Bug Squash party

Oh hey, here’s another belated post from Sole! But at least it didn’t take me a full whole year to write ^_^

We hosted the first ever Firefox OS Bug Squash Party at Mozilla London (also known as MozLDN) last week, thanks to the initiative of Francisco and Guillaume that mostly brainstormed it all with support from Valentin Schmitt.
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