mrz's noise

noise from a mozilla IT/Operations wrangler

Step 2.01: Air Mozilla Stage Hands Opportunity

Mozilla.  Get Involved.  Do IT.

Do you have a penchant for wearing black?  Were you in the AV club in high school?  Did you (or do you) run lights/sound in high school?

(Are you a thespian and not afraid to admit it?)

Take your involvement with Mozilla to the next level!  Be part of the stage crew behind live Air Mozilla events.

Mozilla IT is looking for a number of volunteers to join the Air Mozilla team and help behind the scenes to make live Air Mozilla events more successful. Be a part of the Air Mozilla Reboot. Learn more about this role and click here if you’re interested.

Air Mozilla Stage Hand role

As part of the Army of Air Mozilla Stage Hands you’ll help behind the scenes at live Mozilla events. You’ll be the person in the black shirt helping folks with microphones, setting up cameras and making sure AV just works.

You will volunteer onsite at MozSpaces (Mountain View, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Paris) and offsite at Mozilla-related events.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Help run behind-the-scenes support for brownbags & Project meetings
  • Work with presenters and speakers to make sure they are successful, including making sure they are properly mic’d and have their laptops properly connected
  • Man the cameras, including switching between laptop presentation, camera view and PIP
  • Pre-flight & setup before the show goes on

Requirements:

  • Passion for telling the Mozilla story in audio & video
  • Interest in sound/lighting tech
  • Ability to commit to 1-3 hours per event (setup/show/teardown)

Bonus points for:

  • school or community theater experience

Interested?  Let us know!

For more ways to contribute to Air Mozilla, look at some of the other Air Mozilla SIG opportunities.

Step 2: Air Mozilla Reboot

Continuing the conversation I started a few weeks ago and Step 1, I want to focus on one of the most powerful tools we have to engage the Mozilla Community and facilitate participation.

What is Air Mozilla?

Air Mozilla is different things to different people.

  • The original wireless network at the 1981 Landings office
  • The live stream from Mozilla’s Mountain View office (10F)
  • The website, air.mozilla.org

In a sense it is all of those things but if I articulate it differently it is:

  • The website
  • The technology to host and steam open source video, live and recorded, at scale
  • A platform – a service & API – for others to use

Our needs for Air Mozilla have outgrown what the current website and infrastructure provide.  It’s time for a reboot.


What is Air Mozilla (take 2)?

Consider this proposed Air Mozilla Mission Statement:

Air Mozilla is a central hub for Mozilla’s rich media, a place for live video streaming and prerecorded video content. It is a site where the Community can find, share and create video content, an open repository of video & audio resources that are freely available to the public, accessible by anyone and any device.

Air Mozilla is also a place to set a good example for open standards by publishing all rich media in open formats with Creative Commons licenses.  It is a place to help drive open standards on the web; a showcase for new rich media technologies.

Air Mozilla is where we tell the Mozilla story in video, where we bridge the gap between video production and web standards evangelism, ensuring that the video we produce is distributed in a manner consistent with Mozilla’s values.

The Reboot

This Reboot is going to require a lot of help from the Mozilla Community.  My teams are acting as the initial stewards, to kick-start this Reboot.  We’ve had the luxury of listening to some great minds who have put a lot of thinking into this already and I’ve summarized and collated a lot of that thinking and have realized that there are two main pieces to Air Mozilla:

  1. The website
  2. The technology

The website
The website, simply speaking, is http://air.mozilla.org/.  It should become the focal point for Mozilla’s rich media.  Some of the goals for this site should be:

  • improve discoverability of Air Mozilla content (past content & future content)
    • future programming guide, listing upcoming live broadcast events
    • searchable archive of media content (with #tags & metadata)
  • improve post-event distribution of Air Mozilla content
    • strive for WebM, fallback to h.264
    • iTunes/RSS podcasts based on #tags and metadata (everyone’s Web is a little bit different *)
    • consumable by anyone, by any device including iOS & Android as well as desktop operating systems
  • increase the amount of content available on Air Mozilla, including content from the various Mozilla Communities
  • be mashable
  • probably more we haven’t thought of

The technology
Open source video, today, is hard. It’s harder to natively create content. It’s harder to stream WebM at scale. Even at Mozilla we’ve relied on Flash-based partners for streaming projects at Mozilla’s scale.

What if you could change that?

The technology behind Air Mozilla should empower you.  It shouldn’t care what tools you use to create content.  It shouldn’t care where you are.  It should showcase video technologies like popcorn.js or Universal Subtitles.

Air Mozilla should allow you to:

  • upload video content – from any device in any format – and have it transcoded to various open source codecs and fallback codecs
  • broadcast a live video stream from anywhere you have Internet
  • support one-to-many and many-to-many collaborations, live & recorded

The technology behind Air Mozilla should:

  • be a lightweight skin on a reusable stack of tools & processes
  • a service/API that can be the source of media content for Mozilla websites.  You won’t need to build your own toolkit for handling multimedia content
  • probably a bunch of other things we haven’t thought of

Want to get involved?

Step 2 is very exciting to me.  Imagine if you will, an Air Mozilla that rivals the likes of TED, of YouTube, of Vimeo – but is the premier showcase for open source video at scale.

Step 1: Community IT

“Help me… help you. Help me, help you. ” ~ Jerry Maguire

Last week I blogged about our efforts to be radical and pivot. The first area we’re focusing on is what I’ve started calling Community IT.

Mozilla’s IT/Infrastructure & Ops team is very adept at supporting the large and complex environment needed to support Firefox users. This same team supports Mozilla’s growing number of paid staff and supports the Mozilla Spaces & Offices, including network infrastructure and audio-visual systems.

There are a lot of technical tools this team manages at a very large scale.

We want to answer the following question:

How can we leverage our resources and expertise to support the entire Mozilla Community and build a better, stronger Mozilla?

For the remainder of 2011, we hope to lead a discussion into what the Mozilla Community needs from IT.  Think of it like your IT department.  You are our customers.

  • How can we help you?
  • What IT resources do you need when you’re  hosting a Mozilla Community event?  A brown bag?  A meet-up?
  • What sort of collaboration tools do you need?

I invite you to look at some of the notes we’ve already started collecting at https://wiki.mozilla.org/IT/Community.

Want to get involved?

  • Join the conversation and join the Community IT mailing list.  Help us understand what you need from this team.
  • Join the IRC channel, irc://irc.mozilla.org/it
  • Join the Community IT SIG.  Be part of this task force.
    • Help us teach others about the IT tools we have available at your disposal
    • Help act as IT support at Mozilla Community events
  • Meet us in person! At these events we’ll be holding round table discussions to learn more from you. We’ll also be on-hand to to lend support.

This is a particular interesting Step 1.  I’ve seen what Community can do.  Imagine what you can do with the right set of IT tools.

My job, after 5.558 years

I’ve been at Mozilla for 5.558 years (or 2001 days but who keeps count?).

Over that time I’ve seen my role within Mozilla change from a network engineer on a team of three to helping orchestrate a team of 38. While my role and job title has surely changed, I don’t think my job actually has. In fact, I can sum up my entire job description with the following:

To empower the Community to promote the Mozilla Mission.

So great, that’s my job, summed up in one line. What does that actually mean? How do I go about doing that?  And what is the Community?

Good questions.

First, the easy one.  In the Mozilla world, people are everything*. The Mozilla Community is you.  It’s me. It’s everyone who contributes to the Mozilla project, whether paid staff or volunteer contributors.  Es todo el mundo.

Second, I’m going to back up a bit.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been spending time with Engagement and talking more and more about Community, so much so that I’ve started using it as a proper noun.  How did I get there?

Back in late Spring, I took a now pivotal trip to Buenos Aires. People close to me are probably tired of hearing me say it, but I came back from that trip with an affinity for gelato and espresso. And Community.

Then I took a trip to Paris (and yes, lost my passport).  I spent a little time there learning more about the Mozilla Community.

Then it hit me.  I’m IT, an Ops guy.  I am also Engagement. We all are.

A couple weeks ago Mozilla had nearly all 600 employess onsite for a company All Hands.  One particular keynote hit me and focused a lot of my thoughts and feelings into a singular point.  I took notes.  A lot of notes.

  • We will never have enough employees to compete
  • We need to create on ramps to create & participate
  • You do not need to be an employee to participate
  • Make others stronger, build better aspects of Mozilla
  • Be fierce.  No one will build into the Internet the kinds of things we want to build

In less than 60 minutes, I saw 2012 as a chance to pivot IT and came up with this simple idea to guide 2012:

How does IT put Community first?

So back to that question, how do I “empower the Mozilla Community”?

There’s the obvious and then the three things that will define 2012 for me.

  1. I orchestrate a group of nearly 40 folks who manage Mozilla’s IT Infrastructure and Operations.  These are the folks who are largely behind the scenes running all the computers that support all the websites.
  2. Community IT.  My collective teams manage an dizzying array of technology.  We support a company that was nearly 40 strong when I started and is nearly 600 today.  We have all these tools at our disposal.  Do you know about them?  How do I make these same set of tools available for you to use?  Teach me what other tools you need.  Help me help you leverage the resources and skills we have to empower the Community and push Mozilla’s mission forward.
  3. Community Sysadmins.  IT is generally closed.  Mozilla is not.  There’s a incredible disconnect there.  How do we leverage the expertise of the Community in running some of the busiest websites in the world?
  4. Air Mozilla.  How do we reinvigorate Air Mozilla such that it becomes a focal point for the Mozilla Community?  A place to show case open source video and technologies?  A place for the Mozilla Community share content?

Over the next several weeks  you’ll see a couple more blog posts talking more about those and how you can get involved.  I’m going need your help, afterall.

My own personal goals by the end of 2012 are:

  • to have 5-10 volunteer Community Sysadmins actively helping run Mozilla’s network and servers.
  • to have a vibrant Community IT group…
  • to have a premiere source for open source video technology, a site where the Mozilla Community can find, share and create video content

And, quite frankly, I’ll be even more excited if those are thriving on their own, independent of me.

This feels like the most ambitious set of projects I’ve ever tried to start.  We might stumble, we might fall.  I suspect, however, we’ll succeed because of the strength of Mozilla’s Community.

To be crystal clear, and to quote Mitchell, I am utterly committed.

 

ps. For those Excel folks,  ROUND(YEARFRAC(DATEVALUE("3/15/2006"),TODAY()),3) & DAYS360(DATEVALUE("3/15/2006"),TODAY())

My Army of Awesome

Three years ago we were a team of 7 if I remember right.

Today it’s a team of 38 spanning 6 different groups & 6 different time zones. They are doing things I wasn’t even imagining we’d be doing three years ago. They are, in many respects, the smartest group of people I have ever worked with.

This is Mozilla’s Infrastructure & Operations team, an extremely talented group of sysadmins, network engineers & desktop support folk –

Army of Awesome

Speech

Two weeks ago my entire team was onsite. It’s perhaps the first real IT/Operations onsite we’ve had. The group is finally large enough and geographically spread around where having focused onsites makes sense.

Most of the week was spent with PuppetLabs and for various reasons, I missed the beginning of the week but I had purposely decided to let the teams run the week.

I wanted to wrap up the week with some sort of team event and in reflecting on my teams and what it all means to me, it made sense that we should host a party and invite Engagement and Webdev, two of the groups we interface with the most. As I said in my email to them, they “complete us”.

I prepared a speech too but as things turned out, the venue didn’t really lend itself towards a speech and as the night went on, the vibe didn’t feel like it needed to be interrupted with one.

I spent a lot of time on this and still think it’s worthwhile sharing.

I wrote this in the context of notes to myself, less of something I’d read straight through.

Hard to imagine with a group this large we’d all get along all the time. We’re like three parts of a whole. We don’t function without each other.

Let me give you a couple examples that drove that home for me. Back in March, just before the Firefox 4 launch I started working more with Engagement & Webdev and learned:

  1. Unflinching Mayumi who wouldn’t take any shit from me pushing back on websites
  2. Laura’s constant demos.mozilla.org pushes
  3. I had guys on my team who don’t touch websites doing websites.
  4. I argued with Jeff over his glow.mozilla.org site (and I let Jeff convince me he was right)
  5. Yet everyone was aligned
  6. And then the day we did 10+ pushes, no downtime, no announcements

At the start of Q2 I told my teams, I’m lazy, no more downtime announcements. And you know what? The last post I made for any website push was March 9. I’m not sure how we did it. A lot of if I’m sure was webdev’s work with AMO and dark launches. That I don’t actually know how the teams did it just means they’re awesome.

Let me share just a little bit about what my teams do and what IT does.

IT suits me. I don’t think any of you know this but in high school I was a theatre guy, a thespian. My first show was “Anything Goes” and I ran sound (my last was “West Side Story“). I like to work where I’m noticed the least and were I help others look their best.

That sort of fits IT. You only really know we’re here when things don’t work. But these are the guys and gals who are invisible so we ALL look good.

Of course the downside is that not everyone knows that my entire group was 10 last year and more than 30 today.

I bet no one here even realized we stopped announcing downtimes.

Going back to the “we don’t function without each other” -

I’ve seen my share of disasters here – but we rally. Because we really are just one team.

YearUp, Mozilla & Core Values Award

YearUp's Core Values Award

In late 2009 my friend and former colleague Dan Portillo introduced me to YearUp. I could say a lot about YearUp but none says it best than this PBS NewsHour segment.

I met Jay and Sahaar at YearUp and immediately saw possibilities for Mozilla’s participation and by January 2010 we welcomed our first, albeit entirely overdressed, YearUp intern, Justin, and followed that with our second intern, Henry, in August.

Going into 2011, Mozilla increased it’s participation with YearUp and took on three interns.

Three semesters (and we’re doing a fourth), five different students. Yet what stands out is their utter determination and strength to rise above whatever set of cards life handed out, hardship and opportunity divide be damned; their persistent drive to excel and their eagerness to soak up knowledge and wisdom from not just me but from their peers at Mozilla.

No doubt a lot of credit goes to YearUp. No doubt a lot more credit goes to the individual student. Very little goes to me – they’ve already plotted their own course – I’m only here, if anything, as a part-time teacher.

I’ve seen Justin and Henry step into roles I never thought they’d be in when they started. Both have become leaders in their own rights. Both continue to be advocates for YearUp within Mozilla, mentoring where I don’t have the faculties to do so.

And part of that defines what Mozilla is to me. It was Mozilla, after all, that rose against seemingly insurmountable odds to become a dominant web browser and an agent of change.

I recently learned that I had been recognized with YearUp’s Core Values Award, an award that recognizes those that embody YearUp’s principles; principles that are at the foundation of everything they do.

This isn’t an award I can accept on my own though.

It’s only an award I’m able to achieve because I have the privilege and luxury to stand on shoulders of giants who have helped me, who have mentored me, who have unknowingly shaped my own life (and whose numbers exceed my ability to adequately thank).

It is because of the way Mozilla has shaped and molded me over the past five years that I’m able to be thought of as “living YearUp’s Core Values”, the ability to think less of the individual importance of self but the overall success of the whole, of the Project and of the Community (and ironically success of the latter tends to bring the former).

I’m humbled to even be considered for such an award let alone be privileged to work with YearUp. That I’ve had any part in shaping another human’s trajectory in life is mind numbingly humbling (and not something I ever specifically set out to do).

I’ll leave with a few words from an email I sent after attending my first YearUp graduation where Mozilla was presented with YearUp’s Urban Empowerment Award:

It is with a sense of awe and a feeling of pride to be involved with YearUp.

I lost my passport in Hungary

I’m posting this in the hopes others who find themselves in this predicament will find this online and find it useful. I certainly found comfort in this guy’s tale.

I took a side trip to Hungary this past weekend and inadvertently lost my passport.

So now what?

This all happened on a Friday night. Thank God for a smart phone. And data roaming be damned. I quickly googled for the embassy in Budapest and called the emergency after hours number. After declaring myself an American citizen, my call was escalated to the oncall duty manager.

Here’s where definitions of emergency differ. I has a flight out of Budapest Sunday morning. This was a “blocker” for me. The US Embassy in Budapest is closed over the weekends (even for emergencies). Not an emergency to them.

The best the duty officer could offer me was to arrive Monday morning, identify myself as an American and I’d be escorted in to get a temporary passport.

I tweet’d looking for help. I crowd sourced getting help. You have no idea how helpful that alone was. (thanks everyone!) I had people sending me DMs and text messages and replies to my tweet. It felt good to know I had this network of people willing to help me.

Saturday I retraced my steps (no luck) and moved my return flight to the last possible one on Monday. It was mentally really hard to have any fun the rest of Saturday.

Sunday. Budapest is hot, hot like Yucatán hot. Budapest is also a very walkable city. However, because of the heat I spent most of of my time going from one free wifi coffee shop to another. I also scouted out my embassy.

Monday morning. Embassy opens at 9am. I’m up at 7a, dressed and fed and out by 7:45a. Way ahead of schedule. I got to the embassy at around 8:15a and told the guard I had lost my passport and showed him my California drivers license. He disappeared for a bit and then opened the gate for me. He told me to leave my bag with him, it’ll be easier to get in (made sense to me – I wanted as little drama as possible).

Currently, my most valuable possession.

I had to empty my pockets and literally turn off my phone before going through the metal detector. The guard there put all my belongings except for my ID and money into a box.

I grabbed a ticket and waited a few minutes until hey called my number. I had to fill out a passport application & lost passport form, get passport photos ($5.41), pay $135 for a new passport and wait 20 minutes for them to print out my passport.

At least I had alternate ID. The gentleman behind me had nothing but a copy of his passport which didn’t seem to be of any use. I talked to him a bit. Same thing, lost his passport and everything else he had in his “pouch”. At least my stuff is all separate.

Total time in embassy, 1:19. Didn’t have the patience for the metro and took a taxi to the airport.

So basically a huge inconvenience. Meant having to change a number of flights around (not free). Meant staying longer than I had packed for or planned to in Budapest.

Also, screwed my work schedule. Also, expensive mistake.

Souvenier from Budapest.


So lesson learned. Don’t lose your passport. But if you do, lose it during the week and not the Friday before the weekend.

If you’ll indulge me,

Single points of failure suck. I can’t help thinking that this whole passport concept is a single point of failure. I lost it and was screwed. Never mind that I had a couple credit cards and a California drivers license with me -and- a color copy of my passport.

I also have a this biometric data that’s physically attached to my body and REALLY hard to lose. I felt like I had all these tools to conclusively prove who I am and some computer could verify I was okay to fly.

Back in Paris

I learned long ago that home is wherever my stuff is. My stuff – laptop, luggage – was in Paris. I’m back in Paris, still far from my home but I can’t tell you how much this feels like home!

Behind my name.

This came up the other day and it occurred to me that not everyone knows why I call myself what I call myself.

  1. Why mrz?
    It’s not short for Mr. Z.

    Shortly after moving out to Mountain View in 1996, I worked at 3Com. I worked in the engineering division that, during the two years I worked there, went by names such as NSD and ESD. This was the division that made “brouters” and if memory serves, largely came from Bridge Communications. I started there as a Solaris syadmin and left as a network engineer (and didn’t really look back).

    Anyways, username convention was your first, middle and last initial. mrz stuck. Also, it’s half as long as my first initial and last name.

    (Bonus points if anyone knows my middle name without using Google.)

  2. Matt or matthew?
    In high school I worked at Dairy Queen. One of the highlights, of course, was taking home soft serve ice cream (“mistakes”). But that’s not what this is about.

    When I started, my name tag read:

    Welcome Matt

    It was at this point I decided I would only go by matthew – I am neither a doormat nor a welcome mat.

    Nowadays, I answer to both, but often correct to the preferred. Which you use tends to indicate how well you know me.

  3. But why matthew and not with a capital M?
    You’ll very rarely see me write my name, first or last, with any capitalization. This an artifact of my first email address (matthew@interaccess.com), which was in all lower case.

    That stuck. So did the fixed-width font. It’s weird, I know.

  4. One more thing…
    Since I already have you at 3 bullet points, here’s one extra bit of trivia.

    My first name comes from my great grandfather’s middle name and this first century Galilean. My middle name comes from my grandfather’s first.

Buenos Aires

Musica cerca de Av. Corrientes y Av. 9 de Julio.

Last week, for eight days, I was able to step outside my normal role managing Operations and wear an entirely different hat.

I had an amazing opportunity to interact with the vibrant Mozilla and Open Source community; I got to interact with those who I help from the shadows every day.

I’ve had a couple days to let my thoughts soak in.

Something about Argentina and Buenos Aires resonated with me in a way that’s hard to describe. It is, perhaps, the first time in my life I’ve had a sense of reverse home sickness. From San Telmo to La Boca Caminito to Palermo to Recoleta Cemetary and Calle Florida, Buenos Aires oozed of culture. From pizza to empanadas to more gelato than I can remember, it’s unlike anywhere else I’ve ever traveled.

Persicco, best gelato around.

Persicco, best gelato around.

The bustling energy of San Telmo’s Feria de Antigüedades was matched only by the energy of the open source community I met.

San Telmo’s Feria de Antigüedades

San Telmo’s Feria de Antigüedades

On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending the Firefox 4 Party. This was amazing. The night before I met with several of the event organizers, including Guillermo Movia. They were expecting 50 or so and instead had 150 at the party. I don’t know how to really describe what it was like, walking around and mingling with everyone (in my broken Spanish no less), hearing everyone talk about Firefox and Mozilla.

Thursday night we attended the first Hacks/Hackers MeetUp in Buenos Aires at AreaTres. The discussion was all in Spanish but I mostly kept up. I was amazed at the turn out. Was a far larger group than I would have imagined and made me realize how large the open source community in Buenos Aires is.

Hack/Hackers MeetUp

Hack/Hackers MeetUp

 

Friday wrapped up with a Design MeetUp at Urban Station that Tara led. This turned out to be one of the surprise highlights mostly because of the discussion afterwards. I don’t often get to interact with the community in such an intimate venue and speak Mozilla.

You can take me out of networking but you can’t take networking out of me. At each place we went to I’d always check to see who I had upstream connectivity from and what my path to Phoenix or San Jose looked like. Urban Station had the quickest Internet I had experienced while in Buenos Aires.

La Boca Caminito

La Boca Caminito, gracias a Benito Quinquela Martín.


On a personal side, since all of these events were after 6pm local time and I was shifted 4 hours off California, I found a lot of time to explore and soak in Buenos Aires. I walked more than I can remember, slowed down more than usual to look and listen. Ate. Indulged. Walked. Explored. Saw a ballet show at Teatro Colón. Went to a Tango show. Walked to Carlos Gardel’s house (Casa Museo Carlos Gardel) in Abasto. Inadvertently walked to Palermo and had mint iced tea. Bought a crappy umbrella and walked in the rain.

No doubt I was lucky to have a fantastic travel companion (I’ve thanked you, haven’t I Tara?).

Lastly, I want to share this:

I went with very little expectations and maybe a little nervous anticipation. I came back with a profound sense of Mozilla, of the community that supports Mozilla and a feeling of renewed purpose for why I work at Mozilla. I came back with more friends than I left with, with a twitter feed half in Spanish.

John Lilly used to talk about about great companies vs good companies. How great companies last; they may change but their mission remains. Mozilla, he argued, was on a path to be a great company. Today, the vehicle for Mozilla’s mission is Firefox. Tomorrow it could be something else. But the mission will remain.

This is the sense of Mozilla I was left with when I landed in San Francisco. The emotional connection people make with Mozilla, and more precisely, its Mission, is what will make Mozilla one of the great companies.

I’ll leave you with a couple pictures I took. Tara did a better job taking photos than I did – you should check out her Flickr gallery.

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