My Magic Carpet Ride at MozFest 2015

Eric Pang



Hello from sunny Manchester!  

Seeing as I’m pretty close to London I thought it would be a good opportunity to check out MozFest for the first time!  The event took place in beautiful East London right next to the quirky O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome) at the Ravensborne building.


Ravensbourne Building in East London

What is Mozfest anyway? It’s a celebration of the open web that gives attendees the opportunity to showcase projects they have been working on. More importantly it’s a place where you learn, share and meet like minded people.

Air Mozilla Blimp FirefoxFirefox OS

Being my first MozFest I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never been to a conference like this — At initial arrival, it felt unorganized and chaotic. At any given time there were 25+ talks going on, each completely different. This may have felt strange because only a couple of weeks earlier I was at Smashing Conference In Barcelona where organization was a key part to the success of the conference (read more about the conference in the previous blog post Smashing Conference Barcelona by Hung Nguyen). If that was considered the normal way a conference is run then this was by no means normal!

The opening speeches helped confirm that chaotic nature was intentional. Amira Dhalla put it best when she said, “I am the creator and director of my own magic carpet ride”. The open structure allowed everyone to customize their own individual experience at MozFest.

Mitchell Baker

Mitchell Baker gives an opening speech at MozFest 2015

Although I had looked through the list of sessions before arriving, I decided to attend some sessions on a whim instead of going to ones that directly related to my role at Mozilla. Even though I was still a little confused and overwhelmed, this is exactly what I did for my first session.

Becoming a Human Rights CSI

Facilitators: Milena Marin, Amnesty International & Francesco Sebregondi, Forensic Architecture

Micro Tasking

During the opening speeches a few of the leaders and facilitators gave a quick overview of the sessions they were holding. Milena Marin was one of the speakers. As she spoke about her subject her enthusiasm helped me decide that this was the first session I wanted to jump into.

We were shown how micro tasking and crowd sourcing can turn a huge task into manageable chunks. In the specific task we were introduced to how Amnesty International plans to use this technique to investigate their human rights campaigns.

Split up into small teams we were each assigned a section of a larger satellite image to highlight areas that may have been affected from a missile strike. The session was a great learning experience about the power of micro tasking using open source information and how contributors can help organizations process a large amount of information. For Amnesty International the findings can lead data to support their future campaigns.

Find more information here.

Crafting New Visualization Techniques for the Mobile Web

Facilitator: Aaron Williams

Being a user experience designer on Firefox OS Aaron’s session stood out to me. The session was all about breaking the norm and designing for mobile first and then scaling up for desktop second.

The session started by compiling a list of different data types such as, tables, graphs, maps, time lines, etc. With this list we were asked to choose one and explore possibilities of how the data visualization could be improved if designed for a mobile platforms first. Next we generated a list of interactions that differentiate desktop from mobile. For example, mobile allows for interactions such as tapping, shaking, tilting, haptic feedback, etc. We should be thinking about how we can use these to help enhance different kind of data visualization, which are not possible on desktop.

As a team we choose timelines as our data type and explored how motion sensors could help visualize this data. With blue sky thinking we thought about moving the device in the space around you to view different sections of a timeline. We saw the potential of this working in some scenarios such as in schools or museums but also the drawbacks of using this in some social situations such as public transport. It made for a pretty hilarious discussion about social norms!

Check out Aaron’s blog here.

Conservation, Live Streaming and VR

Facilitators: Adrian Cockle, Alasdair Davies & Tim Brooke


Another session I attended was a fun and interactive session held by the Seven Seconds Ago team. The team was showcasing a open source project that helps connect people to wildlife through 360 virtual reality. While getting a chance to test out their demo of the Google Cardboard meerkat experiment we discussed the potential users, the difference between live and pre-recorded content and what else can be added to make an even greater experience.

Watch a video here about the project.

What started out as a chaotic beginning to the festival ended up being the ‘magic carpet ride’ Amira said it would be. I would highly recommend everyone should to experience MozFest as there is definitely something for everyone :).

London is a beautiful city making it great for photography. Here are a few snaps I took while exploring.


millennium bridge

County Hall Southbank Bubbles Sweep

Crossing Over: My Experience with Web Development

Amy Lee


As a visual designer working on Firefox OS, I thought it would be beneficial to learn more about the technical aspect of building a web-based OS and so I decided to take a 12 week front-end web development course.

The course was intensive with each week covering topics such as tools and workflow, HTML fundamentals, CSS3 animations, JavaScript and jQuery. I had learned some HTML and CSS years ago in university but the landscape of mark-up language has definitely changed since then.

Some of the things I learned in the course has helped me become more in-tune with the type of tasks involved when building a web-based OS. My ultimate goal wasn’t to become a front-end developer, but to develop empathy and to foster a more cohesive working relationship with developers on the team. By being able to ask the right questions and to understand the technical aspects of web development, we can experience a stronger connection between disciplines.

There are developers who treat UX and design as a means to build code. However, I have also noticed that there are some developers who are very passionate about UX and design. I always appreciate developers who care about design and understand the importance of an optimal text size and is willing to go that extra distance in refining UI elements. I think the same should be applied to designers, to have a basic understanding of the technology in which they are designing for.

From an efficiency standpoint, it is an essential skill for designers working with web technologies to know how to edit a CSS file. For Firefox OS, I am able to make edits directly to the device through WebIDE — a browser-based tool that allows you to create, edit, run, and debug web apps. This allows me to test out fonts sizes and weights, fine-tune an animation, or explore colours, without relying on the aid of a developer.


Editing CSS through WebIDE

Editing CSS through WebIDE

In WebIDE you can see your edits directly on the device

There are many people that believe designers should know how to implement their own designs. While designer/developer unicorns can exist, oftentimes these individuals end up having a strong expertise in only one of those disciplines. I don’t think designers should be limited by their technical abilities to implement a design and developers shouldn’t be limited by their knowledge of design tools. To have a designer who understands the intricacies of web development and a developer who appreciates typography would ultimately lead to stronger teams and products.

Smashing Conference Barcelona

Hung Nguyen


Please note all photos are taken by me unless otherwise stated.

During the last week of October, I was fortunate enough to attend the Smashing Conference in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain. The conference was held at the breathtaking venue, Palau de la Música Catalana and covered a wide range of design topics ranging from the more practical to the truly inspirational.

In this blog post, I would like to share some the highlights.

Event Highlights

Before getting into the talks, I wanted to share with you the fantastic job the organizers did with the event.

The Venue

I honestly can’t say this enough but everything about the Palau de la Música Catalana was absolutely stunning. The building is rich in history and I constantly found myself getting lost in the details during the talks.

Even with so many architectural moments, the one that stood out the most for me was the skylight situated in the center of the concert hall. This was simply mesmerizing to behold with how intricate the design was. This is definitely something I will never forget.

Barcelona_2015-3 Barcelona_2015-5Barcelona_2015-7






The Fun Details

What fun is a design conference without a chocolate fountain? Yes, there was really a chocolate fountain there which was very popular with the attendees. Aside from the great selection of snacks, there was also a party held at the Estrella Brewery and a typography photo walk to cap off the conference.

Barcelona_2015-85 Barcelona_2015-74 Barcelona_2015-42






Talk Highlights

Although all the talks were great in their own way, two of them really resonated with me. Jina Bolton’s talk on “Living Design Systems” and Andrew Tider & Jeff Greenspan’s “We’ll teach you everything we don’t know”.

Living Design Systems

This talk hit especially close to home since it was directly related to working on Firefox OS. When creating an operating system, one of the biggest issues is maintaining consistency across all applications and components. A lot of the times. you’ll find graphical discrepancies because a specification wasn’t followed or there is simply a lack of documentation or support.

What the Jina and her team at Salesforce did was create a living design system that provided a cross platform approach to handling graphical components in a modular manner. This made updates to the design instant to all parties using it.

The talk provided some great examples and I hope to integrate some of it into the Firefox OS work being done. There so much more to it then what I’m sharing so please check out her blog post here for more info.



We’ll teach you everything we don’t know

On the other end of the spectrum was a much more emotionally inspirational talk by Andrew Tider and Jeff Greenspan. These two designers turned activists created some of the most eye opening projects that help bring to light topics that were generally swept under the rug.

They spoke about their unconventional approach to tackling problems (which in many cases really paid off with a bit a drama) and to always traveling the road less taken.

You can check out their talk here.




Overall the conference was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.

Before I sigh off, I just wanted to say that if you ever get the opportunity to visit Barcelona, do not hesitate. It was truly a memorable experience that I will never forget.

Now I leave you with some of my favorite photos!


Barcelona_2015-11 Barcelona_2015-13 Barcelona_2015-24 Barcelona_2015-45 Barcelona_2015-109 Barcelona_2015-111










My Adobe MAX adventure

Carol Huang


Hello from Taipei, I want to share with you my recent experience at a design conference. Being an a smallish island, Taiwan has limited design learning opportunities, but thanks to Mozilla’s training program I was able to attend the Adobe Max conference, in Los Angeles. It was a great experience to venture into a different culture and to meet designers from different fields at once.

Adobe MAX is a creativity conference held in Los Angeles in October 2015. More than 7,000 people from all over the world gather together. The conference runs for three full days. It’s like a designers’ candy land because it’s full with inspirational and iconic speakers (such as Maira Kalman, Baz Luhrmann, Elle Luna, Brandon Stanton), various sessions, labs, creative workshop and the MAX keynotes! This was my first time attending this design conference. I was super excited to join the conference where I can learn about new products, technology and industry trends.

One of the keynote’s major announcement was the debut of Adobe’s new user experience and user interface design application, currently being developed under the codename Project Comet. It allows you to design and build interactive prototypes in a vector environment. It lets you takes your UX designs from start to finish with the cross-platform app — wireframing, visual design, interaction design, prototyping, previewing and sharing. As a UX designer, one of our challenges right now is that we’re looking for a easy-to-use tool to create prototypes in order to do user testings. Then we can tweak our design and repeat the process. One of Project Comet’s features is that it could import, repeat, and mask multiple images in a single step. This feature would really help us reduce the repetitive and time-consuming work needed to build the prototype so, we could have more time to refine our design. After watching Project Comet demo, I was really looking forward to the actual product. It’s very easy for designers to use and I was impressed by the performance and quality when they showed dozens of artboards in a single Project Comet document. If you’re interested in this project, you could sign up to their mailing list for the latest Project Comet updates.

At Adobe MAX 2015, Creative Sync was a common theme in many of the demos. Creative Sync is the technology that synchronizes assets saved to your Creative Cloud account, across many of the Adobe applications. The advantage is having the ability to store the assets in a central location so that designers can reuse them across our entire design project, which is a key benefit for us, a globally distributed team.

And for those that couldn’t be there, you can now watch MAX 2015 keynotes and conference sessions on demand here.

Overall, it was such a wonderful experience to see the graphic works made by the creatives from all over the world, meeting so many creatives and the inspiring speakers. It was exciting for me to be part of Adobe MAX. Collectively, they are bringing together the world’s best creativity, experience and product innovations.

Lastly, I want to share a quote from Baz Luhrmann when he gave his talk at Adobe MAX. I feel so lucky I get to see him in person in the conference. He is one of my favorite filmmaker who directed Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). Personally, I love the visual impact he brought to the audience in Romeo + Juliet. Luhrmann used his own style to tell a modern version of Shakespeare’s story. He attracts the audience with cinematic style with intense pace of the confrontation between two families with drastic soundtrack of contemporary music. I was fascinated by his unique way of storytelling.

Here’s his quote:

“Get it out! Make something! Don’t wait for permission!!”  ― Baz Luhrmann


My conference badge!

My conference badge!

LA convention center

Graphics made by Dave Kinsey.

Graphics made by Dave Kinsey.

Over 7000 creative minds gathering in LA.

Over 7000 creative minds gathering in LA.

image souce: Project Comet - Adobe

image souce: Project Comet – Adobe

Baz Luhrmann walked on to the stage.

Baz Luhrmann walked on to the stage.

A long journey: from partner to Mozillian

Victoria Gerchinhoren

Hi! I am Victoria, a UX Visual Designer who recently joined Mozilla to work on Firefox OS, with Patryk Adamczyk and the rest of the amazing UX team. But to be honest, it feels funny coming to the Toronto office for my first day at Mozilla, my “new hire” introductions went more like “Hi, how have you been doing since the all hands a few months ago?”

To tell you a bit of the story, I worked at Telefónica R&D for over 6.5 years where I had the chance to be involved in wide variety of projects from health to entertainment to communications services. Working in R&D ensured that all my projects were always exciting as they were on the cutting edge of technology. It’s the R&D side of Telefónica that made it possible to envision development of a web based mobile OS.

This resulted in working with Mozilla from a partner standpoint at the dawn of the FIrefox OS project. The story begins with Telefónica and Mozilla realizing that joining forces was wiser than duplicating effort in the challenging endeavour of creating a new mobile OS based on web technologies. This partnership benefited from the very best the each company had to offer, Mozilla’s knowledge of the open web and Telefónica’s knowledge of communication services.

Both companies respected the strengths of one another, allowing for a natural collaboration based on trust. The working environment allowed for our team to grow a strong bond even thought we were all spread out across the world.

Before I joined the project, the Telefónica UX team already began to set the core foundations of the navigation model and visual design, however it was clear that the task was too great for the small team we had. A decision was made to join the UX efforts, recruit more designers, and focus on one UX direction by joining the efforts of both UX teams (which cut the work load in half), even with this approach the first year of Firefox OS development was some of the more intense time of my life.

Forming the teams was a very interesting experience for all of us, working across different cultures, sharing knowledge, tools and processes between every imaginable time zone. We would gather every few months to enhance the inter-team collaboration before a major milestone in some of the world’s most exciting cities which happened to host our partners or company offices: Barcelona, Berlin, London, Oslo, Madrid, Mountain View, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Sao Paulo, Taipei, and Whistler. Getting to know each other in person, discussing the project face to face, sharing meals and a beer here and there were key for bonding, and helped the future conversations over Vidyo, Hangouts, Skype or even the Bugzilla.

Overtime as we shaped and improved our processes, meetings became a regular part of life: daily stand ups for the members of each team (systems front end or communications in my case) and weekly updates outlining the most important outcomes either by discipline (Q&A, UX team, Visual Design, Interaction Design, Front end, Back end, Product) or by component area. We would share our planning and milestones over the Mozilla’s wiki or Google docs. We would reach each other directly to sort out the day-to-day work and document all the implementation through Bugzilla, with frequent bug triage, as designers, we would review the implementation on the device and raise bugs if what they saw was not aligned with the proposed designs.

Mixing every imaginable culture, background and experiences helped us also understand how different people work and perceive things, it is by far the most interesting and diverse team I have worked with.

I have never thought I would be living with a project for so long, but an OS is like a child, you see it being born and then you are there to guide it in its development. Release after release we have improved our ways to make it better.

I am here to continue the evolution of Firefox OS, now just from another side.

I would love to hear from you all. Reach out to me through the following channels, I am always happy to chat!


IRC: vicky_

skype @vixvixy


And now for some photos from the early days…