MozFest 2014 days 0, 1

I'll try to not let something like past year happen and do a quick blogging now!

Day 0: Friday

I went to the facilitators session. Gunner, Michelle and co explained how to a) get ready for the chaos b) seed the chaos that is MozFest.

I was equally amused and scared, and a bit of embarrassed. That is good.

Idea being that you have to make new connections and new friends during MozFest. Do not hang with people you already know!

It's hard to do it because there are so many great friends I haven't seen in months, and people I hadn't met in person for the first time, but I try.

We mingle with facilitators and as an exercise, we have to explain to each other what our session will consist of. I am told that they are surprised I have got a technical background, right after I mention "HTTP requests" and "API endpoints". Very ironic/sad specially after I wrote this on diversity past week.

I also got a terrible headache and ended up leaving back home before the Science Fair happened. Oh well!

Day 1: Saturday

Chaos unravels.

Our table for WebIDE sessions is taken over by a group of people hanging out. I kindly ask them to make some room as we need space for a session. They sort of leave and then an AppMaker bunch of people drags the table about 1 meter away from where it was and start a session of their own (??). I was in the middle of explaining WebIDE to someone but they are OK with the chaos, so we drag ourselves 1 m away too and continue as if nothing happened. This guy is pretty cool and perhaps wants to contribute with templates! We discuss Grunt and Gulp and dependency requirements. It's a pity Nicola is not yet there but I explain him the work he did this summer and we're working on (node.js + devtools = automated Firefox OS development).

A bit later my session co-facilitators show up in various states of confusion. Nothing unexpected here...

Bobby brings us a big screen so sessions are easier/more obvious and we can explain WebIDE to more than one person at the time. Potch shows his Windows XP wallpaper in all his glory.

Nobody shows up so we go to find lunch. The queue is immense so I give up and go grab "skinny burgers" without buns somewhere else.

Back there Potch proposes a hypothesis for the sake of argument: "Say there are going to be a bunch more people with Flame devices tomorrow. How do we get them started in five minutes?"

We write a script for what we'd say to people, as we reproduce the steps on my fully flashed phone. This is how you activate Developer mode. This is how you connect to the phone, etc.

Potch: "can I take screenshots with WebIDE?" Sole: "Yes, yes you can!" Potch: "Awesome!"

Potch takes screenshots for the guide.

People come to the WebIDE table and we show them how it works. They ask us questions, we answer. When we cannot answer, we show them how to file bugs. Please file bugs! We are not omniscient and cannot know what you are missing.

People leave the table. I leave to find some water as my throat is not happy with me. I stumble upon a bunch of people I know, I get delayed and somehow end up in the art room organised by Kat and Paula, and someone from the Tate explains me a process for creating remixed art with X-Ray and WebMaker: think of an art movement, find what is it that categorises that art movement. Then use google images to look for those elements in the net and use them in the initial website as replacements or as additions. Seems mechanical but the slight randomness of whatever google images can come up with looks funny. I don't want to do this now and I have to come back to my table, but I get this idea about automating this.

Back to the MEGABOOTH Bobby says someone was looking for me. I end up speaking to someone from Mozilla whose face looked familiar but I did not know why. I had been to their office twice, that's why!

They have a custom built version of Firefox OS that takes over the WiFi and replaces it with an adhoc mesh network. So they have a bunch of devices on the table who are able to discover nearby devices and establish this network without intermediaries. They're also working on getting this to be a standard thing---or at least a thing that will be in the operating system, not on a custom build. Pretty cool!

We end up discussing WebRTC, latency, synchronisation of signals for distributed processing, and naive synchronisation signals using a very loud tone if all the devices are in the same place. Fantastic conversation!

I move to the flashing station. A bunch of people are helping to flash Firefox OS phones to the latest version. Somebody even tries his luck with resuscitating a ZTE "open" but it's hard...

Jan Jongboom shows up. I say hi, he tells me about the latest developments in JanOS, and I feel compelled to high five him! Pro tip: never high five Jan. He'll destroy your hand!

It's about time for the speeches. Most important take out: this thing you have in your pocket is not a phone or a TV, it's a computer and you can program it. Be creative!.

Announcement is made that people that contributed in an interestingly special way during the sessions and had got a glittery star sticker in their badge will be rewarded with a Flame phone, but please only take it if you can/want to help us make it better.

"For the sake of argument" becomes "a solid argument". I see one of the flashing station volunteers rush in panic, smiling.

Here's the guide Potch and me devised: Flame-what now?

Time for party, Max Ogden opens his Cat Umbrella. These are the true JS illuminati.

My throat is definitely not happy with me; I go home.