5 Years at Mozilla

Today is my 5 year Mozilla anniversary. Back in 2010, I joined the support team to create awesome documentation for Firefox. That quickly evolved into looking for ways to help users before ever reaching the support site. And this year I joined the Firefox UX team to expand on that work. A lot of things have changed in those five years but Mozilla’s work is as relevant as ever. That’s why I’m even more excited about the work we’re doing today as I was back in 2010. These last 5 years have been amazing and I’m looking forward to many more to come.

For fun, here’s some video from my first week.

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Videoblogging 10 years later

Yesterday I was on another episode of The Web Ahead. This time, talking about the videoblogging movement that I was involved in starting back in 2004. It was then that my friend Ryanne and I created Freevlog to teach people how to get video on the web (we later turned that into a book). Firefox was a really big thing for us back then and it was the beginning of my love of the Mozilla mission and eventually led to me working at Mozilla.

The bonuses of really short videos

One of the nice things about using YouTube for videos on support.mozilla.org is that we get audience retention stats. Here’s what they look like for a minute-long video I made about two years ago.
video-drop-offThis video answers the “How do I set my home page?” question at about 23 seconds in. After that the audience really starts to drop off as the video goes into supplementary topics.

The newer videos I’ve made focus mainly on one thing. This video is only 21 seconds long so it gets right to the point. In this case the average viewer watches the entire thing. Pretty cool!

So shorter is better in this case. Tell me something I don’t already know. Well, my point is that a minute long video is generally considered pretty short. Turns out you might want to think about making videos WAY shorter.

And here’s another bonus for super short videos. They’re much easier to localize. I made this 29 second Firefox OS video as an experiment. After creating an English version, I was able to re-shoot it with the interface in Spanish and drop in localized narration (recorded while I re-shot the video) in about an hour. That’s so awesome. I want to do much more of that next year.

Awesome help apps

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

I’ve always loved the Apple help system from the 90s. I loved the way it could guide you step-by-step though actually performing a complicated process. Yesterday, Michelle Luna was describing her dream of a help app for Firefox OS that could fix or change things for you. “One app to rule them all,” she said. That reminded me again of the Apple system. So I dug out this old PowerBook that I have and booted it up. I wonder why Apple dropped this? This is one of the things that made me love my first Mac.

Ask Toolbar is changing the Firefox add-on process

Note: This is my personal opinion and is not meant to reflect Mozilla’s views.

We’ve done a lot of work to help Firefox users have control over their add-ons (for example, bug 596343 and follow-ups 693743 and 693698) but some software companies are hard at work circumnavigating these protections. A while ago I filed bug 721258 concerned about the way the Ask Toolbar changes our 3rd party add-on confirmation screen. Today, in a follow-up comment I posted this screencast which shows an example of it in action:

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Some suggested that this isn’t that bad or that it could be worse. As someone charged with looking out for our users it’s pretty frustrating to run into that kind of opposition – just take a look at our support forum. Ask is known for this kind of stuff. And in fact, “how do I uninstall the Ask toolbar” is their top support question. It looks like we can’t do anything technical to prevent this at the moment. Maybe by drawing attention to it we can come up with another solution that protects people.

Clarification: At the end of the video, when I’m trying to fix the location bar search – the problem is that “domain guessing” is happening when it shouldn’t be (documented here).