No Free Lunch

Over the last week or so there has been considerable discussion of the proposed plan to include some advertising in the first-run experience of Firefox for new users (Directory Tiles).  There is still considerable work and ideas to complete by others and in myself as a Program Manager for Security and Privacy.

We’ve accepted advertising in communication media for some time now. Both traditional radio and television are supported by advertising which we readily accept in exchange for content. This of course has been a passive model as without work said advertiser cannot gauge the audience.  This advertising for content model has largely extended to the web with some obvious modifications. The use of various technologies on the web has allowed advertisers to gain far more knowledge and to target advertising to a deemed a willing or desired audience. This tracking and data aggregation is also what gives most users concern over Internet advertising. We don’t really want advertisers knowing things about us that does not have an obvious benefit to us. I believe it’s safe to say that we accept advertising for content within certain confines. I also can’t imagine how much worse the Internet would be if everything  were behind a pay wall. The open, shared, connected, and hackable Internet would be far worse and much less usable. So, the fact is advertising pays for the Internet, or at the least a large part of it. Yes we can use add-ons and scripts to hide ads, and as users that is our choice. If everyone did that all the time I think we could agree the Internet that would result would be far worse for all. As an example see the message that shows up to visitors of Reddit when add blocking extensions are used (or at least used to). There is a trade-off here t0 be made and this is where I think Mozilla has a lot to offer.

Mozilla has what I would call an excellent track record of introducing disruptive technologies for the betterment of humanity. We started with the browser in a time when there was only one browser, a lot of people have forgotten that time. We’ve successfully proven that an open source, community driven project can change the web. We’ve  shown that the web authentication model can be done in a privacy protecting way, hence Persona. I’m quite surprised that people don’t think that we can improve Internet advertising in a way that benefits both parties, both parties being advertisers and users. We’re opening our eyes with add-ons like Lightbeam so users can make informed choices about what they want to share and with whom. There should be a motivation for both myself and the advertiser that is open and available for the sharing of information that leads to mutual benefit.  This is part of building the Internet that the world needs. One where privacy is at the forefront in all things.

Posted in Mozilla

25 Years an Eagle

Reflective Moment:

I was invited to attend the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a fine young man I’ve had the please of service with on NYLT for 2 years a few weeks past. As part of the ceremony he had his Grandfather, also and Eagle Scout, read the Eagle Scout Charge. What struck me at this particular time where not the words, though they normally do and help to remind me of the expectations when others learn I am an Eagle, but the announcement that the man reading them had been an Eagle Scout for 80 years.

After listening to the charge and reflecting on it’s meaning for me I did some quick math in my head. I achieved the rank of  Eagle Scout in 1989, and thus in 2014 I will have been an Eagle for 25 years.  It’s hard to fathom what my 16 year old mind thought of what the path had ahead for me. At the time I thought I had a career as a military officer, but that path was obviously abandoned.  The skills I gained, however, have remained and been of great benefit as I’ve grown.

The ideas of service and leadership  have carried me forward and  I continue to work on and try to improve. I find that I am most happy when I am helping others, whether that be with my talents or my time. The joy I find in seeing others benefit from those gifts means very much to me and I think it’s what drives me more than anything. Leadership has been the harder item, I’ve often struggled with what makes a good leader and with the skills to make myself an effective one. I find I have to remind myself that leadership and being a leader is not so much a title but action. It’s not an end point but a journey of learning that means stumbling from time to time.

I am grateful for every lesson, every person who’s encouraged me, for every piece of feedback; especially those that were hard to hear. I shall endeavor to continue to improve and make the next 25 years of service and leadership both a lesson for myself and an example for others. To all of you on the path with me, be it a short walk or for the long haul, a hearty thank you.

“We each leave a legacy, purposefully or not, from all that we do.” – me

Posted in Uncategorized

Your Career is a Bonsai

The only person that will manage and grow your career is you. Maintaining and regularly cultivating the documents (resumes, cover letters, etc) is like a  bonsai tree. Spending a bunch of time working on these when you suddenly need them is a great way to lose valuable time and it may cost you an opportunity that you really want. Doing regular small items (trimming) keeps the tree growing and looking good. It’s also a good way to reflect on where you’ve been, what has been achieved and the destination of your hard work.

I have taken on the habit of regularly updating my LinkedIn profile / resume at least 1 time per year. It is much easier to maintain this stuff when it’s fresh in my mind and take it as a small task when information is easy to gather. I’ve found that having to go back more than a year to remember accomplishments as well as changes in role or responsibility, when my title may not change, are much harder to get correct. I can also ask people to give comments and recommendations while things are fresh for them as well.

This year was a bit of a unique experience as it apparently freaked a few people out when I asked for recommendations of my work. I had put in my request that I was not actively looking for new work and this was part of my regular process, as I had several people, including my current manager, ask what was going on. I guess some did not read that part after the form letter bits from LinkedIn. So a possible modification to the process is to give people are more personalize heads up.

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Posted in General, Mozilla

2 Years At Mozilla

Exactly 2 years ago today I started work with Mozilla, and it’s been the best two years of my working life! I’ve been thinking for some time when I might say today, in fact have been agonizing over it a little bit. So many other Mozillians have made beautifully eloquent posts about their experience. Working at Mozilla has meant a great deal to me and it’s really changed the way I think about myself, my coworkers and my life in general. So many people have helped me and encouraged to me and I don’t have the words to thank them all.

When I started working at Mozilla it was a bit of a culture shock. I had just spent four years working for healthcare company coming from that to the open-source world of Mozilla took some getting used to. I initially described it as moving from a closed Stalinist country to classical Athens. Mozilla’s openness really does pervade everything our community is at the core of what we do. The entire concept has been a joy to work on and in the next year I hope to extend it further with a bunch of stuff that we’re working on to reengage security contributors.

A special thanks to all the members of the Security Assurance and Security Engineering teams. Everyone has been supportive, helpful and patient with me; as well as teaching me a great deal and giving me a place to grow. I know the future holds many challenges and achievements for us, I can’t wait to get to work on them. Being a part of this community is more than a job, its a purpose that matters!

Posted in Mozilla, Random

The Essence of Leadership (a response)

Pascal Finette did An interesting blog the other day on “The Essence of Leadership”. It got me thinking about the subject and what I think is the core of the matter:

  1. Lead themselves first, they accept responsibility for their own growth and progress.
  2. Understand that learning is a process for life.
  3. Connections matter, and that genuine communication empowers everyone when it shows respect for other people and viewpoints.
  4. Legacy matters, how we act today sets the stage for the future.
  5. Empowering others is a prime directive for success

To some degree this is about the difference between management and leadership, that’s better left for another post.

Posted in Leadership, Mozilla

TSA Waste

TSA Waste
Created by:

Posted in Uncategorized

Setting up ZNC on Mozilla People for Limechat

I like using LimeChate for my IRC client, but since I don’t have a way to maintain an always on connection I was missing information happening in channels we use for work. My coworkers user IRSSI on their people accounts and ssh in to get the scroll back. Honestly I just don’t like the asthetics of IRSSI and I have invested some time in good themes for LimeChat and getting things just the way I like it. So I dug a bit more and found a bouncer called ZNC and set off to see if I could get it installed.

First I tried to install it directly and that did not work, in fact the commands said they would report my activity to our ops security group (good thing I work with that team). After poking around on our IRC channels I found out znc is already installed on our people accounts for Mozilla and I just needed to get a config. The easiest way to do this is to run “znc -c, –makeconf“; I found the list of commands by doing a znc -? while ssh-ed into my people account.

The interactive setup was pretty easy, if you have setup an IRC client for doing work at mozilla a good deal of the setup is the same. The biggest difference is you have to give the program a port to listen on, and you need to remember that port for configuring your client be it LimeChat or another. Here are some example choices:

What port would you like ZNC to listen on? (1 to 65535): #
Would you like ZNC to listen using SSL? (yes/no) [no]: yes
Would you like ZNC to listen using ipv6? (yes/no) [no]: no
Listen Host (Blank for all ips):

It will then ask you to setup a user, again pretty easy, then it asks about modules but I did not setup any of these as I did not see a use. You will need the info for your irc server in my case, what port it listens on, (6697) and weather it uses ssl (it does) After that it will ask for the channels you want to have it be on. Don’t forget to provide the passwords for password protected channels. Then you can start it up.

The last part of this is setting up your client. you will want to use localhost as your server and the port you setup in your conf and don’t forget to use SSL. You will also need the username and password you setup during your config. The last part of this that took me a while to figure out was that I had to setup an ssh pass for the local host. On my OS X box that looks like this (you can make this a permanent alias for convenience) “ssh -L####:localhost:####” where #### is the port you specified in your config and username is your people account username. Once this is done you can connect your client and your off.

I have found that any channels I have joined, not just the ones in my conf do have scrollback and other than the server and ssh redirect irc works exactly like a normal connection directly to the mozilla irc servers. As such I have only setup the znc to join channels that are critical for me and I manage the other channels from my irc client.

Thanks to bwinton, the team on #IT and my coworkers for sending me down this path.

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Posted in Mozilla, Random

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