MozFest 2014, day 2

As I was typing the final paragraphs of my previous post, hundreds of Flame devices were being handed to MozFest attendees that had got involved on sessions the day before.

When I arrived (late, because I felt like a lazy slug), there was a queue in the flashing station, which was, essentially, a table with a bunch of awesome Mozilla employees and volunteers from all over the world, working in shifts to make sure all those people with phones using Firefox OS 1.3 were upgraded to 2.1. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I believe the amount was close to 1000 phones. One thousand phones. BAM. Super amazing work, friends. **HATS OFF**


Potch was also improving the Flame starter guide. It had been renamed to Flame On, so go grab that one if you got a Flame and want to know what you can do now. If you want to contribute to the guide, here’s the code.

I (figuratively) rolled up my sleeves (I was wearing a t-shirt), and joined Potch’s table in their effort to enable ADB+DevTools in the newly unboxed phones, so that then the flashing table could jump straight to that part of the process. Not everybody knew about that and they went directly to the other queue, so at some point Marcia went person by person and enabled ADB+DevTools in those phones. Which I found when I tried to help by making sure everybody had that done… and turns out that had already happened. Too late, Sole!

They called us for “the most iconic clipart in Mozilla” i.e. the group photo. After we posed seriously (“interview picture”), smiling and scaring, we went upstairs again to deal with the flow of newly Flame owners.

I helped a bunch of people setting up WebIDE and explained them how it could be used to quickly get started in developing apps, install the simulators, try their app in them and in the phones, etc. But (cue dramatic voice) I saw versions of Firefox I hadn’t seen for years, had to reminisce things I hadn’t done in even longer (installing udev rules) and also did things that looked like straight out of a nightmare (like installing an unsigned driver in Windows 8). Basically, getting this up and running is super easy in Mac, less so in Linux, and quite tedious in Windows. The good news is: we’re working on making the connection part easier!

My favourite part of helping someone set this environment up was then asking, and learning, about how they planned to use it, and how’s tech like in their countries. As I said, MozFest has people from all the places, and that gave me the chance to understand how they use our tools. For example they might just have intermittent internet access which is also metered, BUT they have pretty decent local networks in schools or unis, so it’s feasible to get just one person to get the data (e.g. an updated Firefox) and then everyone else can go to the uni with your laptop to copy all that data. We also had a chance to discuss what sort of apps they are looking to build, and hopefully we will keep in touch so that I can help empower and teach them and then they can spread that knowledge to more people locally! Yay collaboration!

At some point I went out to get some food and get some quiet time. I was drinking water constantly so that was good for my throat but I was feeling little stings of pain occasionally.

On the way back, I grabbed some coffee nearby, and when I entered the college I stumbled upon Rosana, Krupa and Amy who were having some interesting discussions on the lobby. We left with a great life lesson from Amy: if someone is acting like a jerk, perhaps they have a terrible shitty job.

Upstairs to the 6th floor again, I stumble upon Bobby this time and we run a quick postmortem-so-far: mostly good experience, but I feel there’s too much noise for bigger groups, I get distracted and it’s terrible. I also should not let supertechnical people hijack conversations that scare less tech-savvy people away, and I should also explicitly ask each person for questions, not leave it up to them to ask (because they might be afraid of taking the initiative). I should know better, but I don’t facilitate sessions every day so I’m a bit out of my element. I’ll get better! I let Bobby eat his lunch (while standing), and go back to the MEGABOOTH. It’s still a hive of activity. I help where I can. WebIDE questions, Firefox OS questions, you name it.

I also had a chance to chat with Ioana, Flaki, Bebe and other members of the Romania community. We had interacted via Twitter before but never met! They’re supercool and I’m going to be visiting their country next month so we’re all super excited! Yay!

As the evening approaches the area starts to calm down. At some point we can see the flashing station volunteers again, once the queue is gone. They are still in one piece! I start to think they’re superhuman.

It’s starting to be demo-time again! I move downstairs to the 4th floor where people are installing screens and laptops for their demos, but before I know it someone comes nearby and entices me to go back to the Art Room where they are starting the party already. How can I say no?

I go there, they’ve turned off the lights for better atmosphere and so we can see the projected works in all their glory. It feels like being in the Tate Tanks-i.e. great and definitely atmospheric!

Forrest from NoFlo is there, he’s used Mirobot, a Logo-Like robot kit, connected to NoFlo to program it (and I think it used the webcam as input too):

When I come back to the 4th they’re having some announcements and wrap-up speeches, thanking everyone who’s put their efforts into making the festival a success. There’s a mention for pretty much everyone, so our hands hurt! Also, Dees revealed his true inner self:

I realised Bobby had changed to wear even more GOLD. Space wranglers could be identified because they were wearing a sort of golden pashmina, but Bobby took it further. Be afraid, mr. Tom “Gold pants” Dale!

And then on to the demos, there was a table full of locks and I didn’t know what it was about:

until someone explained to me that those locks came in various levels of difficulty and were there to learn how to pick locks! Which I started doing:

Now I cannot stop thinking about cylinders and feeling the mechanism each time I open doors… the harm has been done!

Chris Lord had told me they would be playing at MozFest but I thought I had missed them the night before. No! they played on Sunday! Everyone, please welcome The Vanguards:

And it wasn’t too long until the party would be over and was time to go home! Exhausted, but exhilarated!

I said goodbye to the Mozilla Reps gathering in front of the college, and thanks, and wished them a happy safe journey back home. Not sure why, since they were just going to have dinner, but I was loaded with good vibes and that felt like the right thing to do.

And so that was MozFest 2014 for me. A chaos like usual and I hardly had time to see anything outside from the MEGABOOTH. I’m so sorry I missed so many interesting sessions, but I’m glad I helped so many people too, so there’s that!