Sub-ether message

Quote of the day, because it’s silly and perfect! Give it a dramatic reading if you dare.

The photophonic visiscreen before Ranger brightened with the image of a stocky reptilian creature that looked vaguely humanoid. Its facial scales flushed violet with pleasure as it said: “Captain Farstar! Greetings from Newtonia. How pleased I am to see you again.” The being spoke good Unilingo that was only faintly slurred by a vague hissing.
“Greetings, Dr. Clay. My blood temperature is increased by your warmth,” Ranger said, using the semi-formal greeting ritual of Cretacia, the director’s native planet. “Did you receive my sub-ether message?”

This is from the opening chapter of The Treasure of Wonderwhat. I note that their ship is named “The Gayheart”.

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Weekend of random activities

Looking back over this weekend it seems so quiet and low-key yet packed full of action on another level. I stayed at home after a very active week.

Tuesday was our Double Union Tea and Lightning Talks at the Mozilla community room. Over 60 people showed up. We had about 10 talks. The food was all devoured (next time I know to ask for more of it.) People all seemed super happy to be there and I had a great time MC-ing with Amelia! Wednesday I took half the day off and road tripped with Len and Rose up to Novato to see our friend Ron from Ophoenix who I love and admire. He is cool, mathy, wise, funny, good hacker, and a great activist. Ron is one of the people I co-exist with on ambient IM. I likewhen people are kind and compassionate yet can have a sharp edge; we seem to share that. Driving to Novato for me and Len is actually a road trip since neither of us drive. We hung out and just rambled nerdily all afternoon long. It was fabulous! It was also the first time I’d met Len in person and I want to go hang out with him in Santa Cruz. Especially as he described how he bakes bread all the time.

Thursday I spent an intense evening at the Pioneer Awards with Danny. Still extremely sad about Aaron; it seems surreal that he is gone. (Whatever I feel is nothing to Taren’s and to Danny’s daughter who was close to Aaron for years; but I’m still really stunned.) I developed an instant activists’ crush on Laura Poitras for being the sort of modest documentarian and doing things that are of use. It was good to hear what she had to say and see her huge grin on the screen! I had a brief but good conversation with Jamie Love and I wonder if I can kick the WEEE repair manual access idea to them. I have so much admiration for what they did with WIPO! Hugged and talked with a lot of other people there who I really love to see and don’t get to see enough.

It feels like cheating my blog to sum up the week this way. But oddly… or not… I want to dwell on my more private, homebody, intellectual life.

Friday I came down with a cold, maybe not surprising after all that running around and working on top of it. I usually don’t leave the house two days in a row even to go up the street to the corner store.

So this weekend I nursed my cold, drank a bunch of nyquil and took naps, flung kleenexes around (till saturday afternoon when i cleaned up) but also did a lot of reading. I ripped through a few more books I’m reading for the 2011 Carl Brandon Awards (the award is a little bit behind and doing 2 years simultaneously to catch up.) It is a joy to be on book award reading juries, not just to have a giant stream of books coming at me, but to have so many *new* books I can recommend to people! And I can’t wait to have some discussions and hear what the other jurors think. All of which we will be doing scarily soon.

I also read Looking for Transwonderland by Noo Saro-Wiwa and enjoyed it, though I gave it the side eye a few times I am also a fan of order with liveliness, showers, reliable electricity, people not bugging me about religion, museums, ecology, and less corruption in government so I don’t have much of a place to eye from. I did a fair amount of looking things up on Wikipedia and found a good candidate for developing a new article — on the Esie soapstone sculptures. Here is a museum for the GLAM wikipedia project! The stuff about Susanne Wenger mystical white lady priestess of Oshun also sent me on a wide eyed rampage of horror and wonderment as I fell deeply down yet another internet rathole. O M G. Talked in the language of the trees, yeah…. ok….. Then to adopt 12 local kids and deliberately raise them illiterate? I can’t even!!!!!!

Meanwhile this was going down in our communities: https://twitter.com/ashedryden/status/381465338443202560 and that’s all I want to say about that in public though the private conversations have been going on all weekend. A whole bunch of us can’t talk about it, but had to at least mention it. Ashe wrote a good post: http://ashedryden.com/blog/we-deserve-better-than-this Yes. That is the place we are coming from. You know nothing, Jon Snow. http://twitter.com/shanley also laid down the knowledge and righteous anger.

Other things, I tended my little garden of potted plants, cooked chicken-corn-pasilla pepper soup and curtido, grocery shopped, spent most of Saturday and Sunday with my sister and her 6 year old son. Laura worked on fabrics for her NASA planetary map dresses. Jack played Plants vs. Zombies 2 and other games. We played King of the Beasts with him (a great quick card/board game) and later when Laura went to a meeting Jack and I played a longer cooperative board game called Castle Panic. He was the Master Slayer (fortunately). I read Danny’s emails and twitters from the xoxo conference in Portland and thought fondly of people there.

At some point late Saturday night I went searching for a quote I was thinking of earlier in the week, by June Arnold who has been on my mind lately because The Cook and the Carpenter is so relevant to my life what with the hackerspaces and all. Realized June Arnold does not have a Wikipedia page. Oh!!!!! Like a stab in the heart. Most feminist press stuff is just missing from there. This would be a nice thing I could do, gradually and I certainly have or can scare up some decent source material. I found the quote which is from the 2nd issue of Sinister Wisdom.

I think the novel — art, the presentation of women in purity (also I would include poetry, short stories) — will lead to, or is, revolution. I’m not talking about an alternate culture at all, where we leave the politics to the men. Women’s art is politics, the means to change women’s minds. And the women’s presses are not alternate either but are the mainstream and the thrust of the revolution. And there’s no tenure in the revolution.

That panel of her, Sandy Boucher, Susan Griffin, Melanie Kay and Judith McDaniel was pretty great. I read it over again and was especially happy just holding Melanie’s thoughts about Wittig, Russ, and Arnold in my mind. I realized I have not read Flying by Kate Millet and probably should. Well, I felt happy to connect a bit with this strain of thought. I thought Amelia and others would like the art is politics quote.

Today I read halfway through Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disabliity in American Culture and Literature by Rosemarie Garland Thomson. I got cold-emailed by Rosemarie a while back (I get awesome, awesome, emails at random, every week a few more, more than I can handle) and we finally met up at Noisebridge. I felt a weird Instant ability to partially mind meld, or, trust, or, as some people would put it boringly, I made a new friend! In like an hour hanging out we had gone pretty deep into hand waving and assuming the other person knew what we meant (and we did.) I am greatly enjoying the book. It is nicely built academic literary and cultural criticism, flows well.

Here are some bits I specially dog-eared: I did NOT know this about Aristotle. from Generation of Animals . . . “Anyone who does not take after his parents… is really in a way a monstrosity, since in these cases Nature has in a way strayed from the generic type. The first beginning of this deviation is when a female is formed instead of a male. ” Being born female is to be born disabled. “The female is as it were a deformed male…” Then on into stigma theory which we now less bludgeon-ish-ly refer to as being marked and unmarked. OK. Onwards.

Motherfucking Emerson. (I always like to think of earnest Louisa May Alcott characters falling in love over discussions of Emerson. ) Emerson goes on about conservatives and how they are “effeminated by nature, born halt and blind.” They are also like invalids. He lines up men (who are awesome and ethical citizens) opposed to children and disabled people (and women since I doubt he means “humans”) This sentence of Rosemarie’s wrapped it up nicely for me, “Emerson’s juxtaposition of an unrestricted cultural self with a muted other thwarted by physical limits exposes the problem of the body within the ideology of liberal individualism.” OK, maybe you had to be there. IT made me happy. I’m not typing out pages and pages of this and I want to press onwards. Deep into the next section I felt she was laying out out a lot of good knowledge about ways that racism and US-ian concepts of white and black (or non-white) are entangled with gender and disability. good stuff here.

Then like a full on body slam I hit the chapter “Benevolent Maternalism and the Disabled Woman in Stowe, Davis, and Phelps”. (Which god knows I will scavenge off Project Gutenberg and read this week, but I get the idea from her descriptions). Again blackness and disabilty and gender entwine. Check this out. Here is where I get my typing fingers out and smear on the arthritis knuckle cream.

As Stowe deplores slavery’s inhumane separation of families, as Davis reveals the iron mill’s callous victimization of workers, and as Phelps censures the textile industry’s abuse of mill girls, each writer highlights nondisabled heroines or narrators who prevail or even triumph. Their disabled sisters, however, stay on the narrative margins, degraded by oppressive institutions and ultimately sacrified to the social problems the novels assail. . . . While the various maternal benefactresses radiate a transcendent virtue, agency, and power, the disabled women become increasingly subjugated, despairing, and impotent.

Crushed by capitalism’s laissez-faire morality, Prue, Hagar, Deb, and Catty are icons of vulnerability who help generate a rhetoric of sympathy and scandal meant to propel readers from complacency to convictions. Despite their secondary or even minor parts in the actual narratives these disabled women fulfill major rhetorical roles by arousing the sympathetic indignation that activates benevolent maternalism. This impulse was the springboard from which white, middle class women could launch themselves into a prestigious, more influential public role that captured some of the elements of liberal selfhood. . . . . At the same time, however, these novels diminish the very figures for whom they plead by casting them outside the exclusive program of feminine liberal selfhood the narratives map. (emphasis mine)

I had to pause and let that resonate for a bit. Damn! SO TRUE. SO STILL TRUE. I mean in real life not in a novel.

Make me want to go read Arrogant Beggar by Anzia Yezierska all over again like a sort of brain-wash, just thinking what that mill girl novel is going to be like.

So, also, I spent some pleasant hours participating in CSAW Capture the Flag with Seattle Attic’s team. I would love to make it pan-feminist-hackerspace (as it more or less was with me and some others in it). It was super fun, I love puzzles, and felt stimulating! The team was 303rd out of 1300 entrants. Would do this again. I feel the impulse to go over all the puzzles to learn things.

I also fooled around putting the Hubble Deep Field onto online fabric designer stores (I am getting a swatch from Spoonflower and one from ArtofWhere, to compare) so that I can make space pillowcases for my friend Ron. (And maybe for me and everyone I know?) I did not color correct, figuring, try a swatch, if it is good enough, I don’t have to learn how. If it isn’t then it seems learnable. I would also like this nail polish as it is the best space toenail possibility I’ve seen yet!

Then I thought a little bit about RAID arrays and MPD and setting up a feminist media server and book scanner at the new hackerspace.

I thought of my friend Timmi and wished to convey all this to her and thought of writing her a giant letter but instead it is a blog post for anyone and everyone. I will write her a giant letter too at some other point.

I riffled through this feminist online library and thought about what I could do with a hopefully ethical as possible but not quite so limited by copyright law approach to documenting our history.

I had a nice conversation with Skud about Growstuff and development processes. Thought a bit about collective authorship, patterns and antipatterns. It would be neat to take Selena’s git story flash cards and make them into different orders for patterns and antipatterns like we were talking about.

I thought a bit more about sassaman but wanted to write this post instead of working on it.

Bedtime now! “There are some days when I think i’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.” Amelia mentioned this quote. We seem similar in temperament. I also write little quotes in the front of my notebooks! And I feel this way. Though I was unsettled, upset, in my usual level of pain (though, enbrel rush on Saturday, yay) and had a cold much of the weekend, I feel so grateful for my inner intellectual life and for all the fantastic people I have to talk with more or less any time. What amazing luck. Hypatia says it is funny that I describe mindfulness as “being smug”. I think of mindfullness as involving more meditation-like sitting still, which I’m incapable of without morphine. Some days I work, eat, clean up, hug everyone, read a little escapist fiction and go to bed. Those are good days even if I end up in tears (from pain usually). Danny and I have great conversations, I feel understood and he always has some new thought or source of interesting knowledge like a fabulous fountain of ideas. More than half of my days I think are like this last week and weekend, flitting from idea to idea, happy to be a dilettante, so happy to read quickly, and sure from past experience that my efforts will combine to make something good, a book, a group, a conversation or a chain of ideas that people remember and value, so that I feel like my time and effort doesn’t just slip away. (At best I accept and believe this; at worst I beat myself up for not being productive enough.)

I hug you all and leave you with this calming manatee. We can’t fix things quickly. What we have done and built, especially our friendships, social ties, and institutions, stand and have affected things. What we’re going to do will make change as well. It is happening, trust it and be comforted.

Calming manatee progress

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FFUntriaged number games

As some of you may know we have over 900,000 thousand bug reports in bugzilla.mozilla.org these days. Around 120K of those are open bugs.

I keep an eye on the incoming bugs, which are still around 350-550 for any 24 hour period and peck away at those. Many people in QA and various engineering teams also keep watch over the incoming bugs so that problems are caught quickly, escalated appropriately, and stuff gets fixed and released as soon as possible.

But the incoming are just one thing among many. Lately I’ve been working on a fairly arbitrary goal. That is to bring down a specific number, the bugs filed for Firefox that are in the “Untriaged” component, where the last comment was by the person who reported the bug. I have it on my todo list as “FFUntriaged”, so I think of it that way. FFUN! (I’m sure that is unconvincing…)

Bugs on a laptop

When I started putting half an hour to an hour a day into this, the count was well over 500 bugs. Now it is closer to 400. I answer some from the front of the queue and some from the tail end, which right now goes back to February 2012. The older, 2012 bugs are mostly obsolete at this point, but I have caught a few that are still valid, and that are now categorized in a product and component that brought them to the notice of the developers who may already be working on similar issues.

Of the bugs that I end up closing, a bunch of them probably should have been support questions in the first place. I resolve them INVALID if they are reallky support questions because they aren’t and weren’t bugs in Firefox. If I can’t tell what was going on, and the reporter doesn’t answer my “needinfo” query, I can resolve the bug INCOMPLETE since there was never enough information to tell if it was really a bug or not.

A few of these long-untriaged Firefox bugs ended up in the RESOLVED WORKSFORME status, which I think of as: when the bug was reported, no one was able to reproduce it, I can’t reproduce it now, and maybe also the original reporter can’t reproduce it. Maybe it got fixed along the way. It doesn’t seem important enough to anyone to pin down exactly what fixed it. It just works now. Resolving it seems ok to me, since that doesn’t erase any history: the bug report is still findable if it comes up again.

The FFUNtriaged bugs project has been fairly satisfying just to watch the number come down over time. Pretty soon we will have it down to something reasonable, like under 30, and actually recent bugs instead of cruft from a year ago. Then I’ll pick a new little project!

And now a digression about duplicate bugs.

A few bugs from FFUNtriaged end up being marked as duplicates. I catch a few, but more often someone more experienced notices the duplicates after I do something else with them, which sends bugmail or puts a report into a new product or component. Some reports just sound like they must have been reported before. DUPing them is a good way to establish connections and direct the original bug reporter to where the action or discussion is. There is good advice in Screening duplicate bugs article on MDN.

There is not only a Most Frequently Reported Bugs list, there is also now a whole dashboard which can show most duped bugs by product. The one I have been looking at a lot recently is the most duped list for Core::Layout bugs. The product dashboard doesn’t let you limit by time though. So I still think the main Most Frequently Reported Bugs page is more useful; you can change its query to limit it by product, or view it as a regular (sortable) bug list.

In theory the better we get (collectively) at duping bugs, the more useful the lists of most-duped bugs will be. It may be a self perpetuating cycle though, to where we learn the most-duped ones, then dup more bugs to them. I have thought before it might be fruitful to hunt after (or ask someone for a lead to) closely related bugs and sort through them to see if any are obvious dupes.

Things I know about automatically as dupes are: anything involving shortcut keys. Layout complains about tables and images. Anything to do with bookmarks. All those are worth a search and a quick scan of a list of bugs with similar words in the summary and then a bit of digging!

Sometimes people are a bit upset that “their” report gets
duped to an already existing bug. I don’t have enough experience (after 8 months triaging) to really have a sense in the patterns of what gets fixed and why. But when a bug is duped to an older one, the people who get bugmail on that older bug are going to get a poke of some kind, so at least that brings the issue to possible attention. And over time, it may affect how teams or engineers set priorities or figure out what to fix or escalate. So I think it it likely useful.

Related posts:

FFUntriage number games

As some of you may know we have over 900,000 thousand bug reports in bugzilla.mozilla.org these days. Around 120K of those are open bugs.

I keep an eye on the incoming bugs, which are still around 350-550 for any 24 hour period and peck away at those. Many people in QA and various engineering teams also keep watch over the incoming bugs so that problems are caught quickly, escalated appropriately, and stuff gets fixed and released as soon as possible.

But the incoming are just one thing among many. Lately I’ve been working on a fairly arbitrary goal. That is to bring down a specific number, the bugs filed for Firefox that are in the “Untriaged” component, where the last comment was by the person who reported the bug. I have it on my todo list as “FFUntriaged”, so I think of it that way. FFUN!

Bugs on a laptop

When I started putting half an hour to an hour a day into this, the count was well over 500 bugs. Now it is closer to 400. I answer some from the front of the queue and some from the tail end, which right now goes back to February 2012. The older, 2012 bugs are mostly obsolete at this point, but I have caught a few that are still valid, and that are now categorized in a product and component that brought them to the notice of the developers who may already be working on similar issues.

Of the bugs that I end up closing, a bunch of them probably should have been support questions in the first place. I resolve them INVALID if they are reallky support questions because they aren’t and weren’t bugs in Firefox. If I can’t tell what was going on, and the reporter doesn’t answer my “needinfo” query, I can resolve the bug INCOMPLETE since there was never enough information to tell if it was really a bug or not.

A few of these long-untriaged Firefox bugs ended up in the RESOLVED WORKSFORME status, which I think of as: when the bug was reported, no one was able to reproduce it, I can’t reproduce it now, and maybe also the original reporter can’t reproduce it. Maybe it got fixed along the way. It doesn’t seem important enough to anyone to pin down exactly what fixed it. It just works now. Resolving it seems ok to me, since that doesn’t erase any history: the bug report is still findable if it comes up again.

The FFUNtriaged bugs project has been fairly satisfying just to watch the number come down over time. Pretty soon we will have it down to something reasonable, like under 30, and actually recent bugs instead of cruft from a year ago. Then I’ll pick a new little project!

And now a digression about duplicate bugs.

A few bugs from FFUNtriaged end up being marked as duplicates. I catch a few, but more often someone more experienced notices the duplicates after I do something else with them, which sends bugmail or puts a report into a new product or component. Some reports just sound like they must have been reported before. DUPing them is a good way to establish connections and direct the original bug reporter to where the action or discussion is. There is good advice in Screening duplicate bugs article on MDN.

There is not only a Most Frequently Reported Bugs list, there is also now a whole dashboard which can show most duped bugs by product. The one I have been looking at a lot recently is the most duped list for Core::Layout bugs. The product dashboard doesn’t let you limit by time though. So I still think the main Most Frequently Reported Bugs page is more useful; you can change its query to limit it by product, or view it as a regular (sortable) bug list.

In theory the better we get (collectively) at duping bugs, the more useful the lists of most-duped bugs will be. It may be a self perpetuating cycle though, to where we learn the most-duped ones, then dup more bugs to them. I have thought before it might be fruitful to hunt after (or ask someone for a lead to) closely related bugs and sort through them to see if any are obvious dupes.

Things I know about automatically as dupes are: anything involving shortcut keys. Layout complains about tables and images. Anything to do with bookmarks. All those are worth a search and a quick scan of a list of bugs with similar words in the summary and then a bit of digging!

Sometimes people are a bit upset that “their” report gets
duped to an already existing bug. I don’t have enough experience (after 8 months triaging) to really have a sense in the patterns of what gets fixed and why. But when a bug is duped to an older one, the people who get bugmail on that older bug are going to get a poke of some kind, so at least that brings the issue to possible attention. And over time, it may affect how teams or engineers set priorities or figure out what to fix or escalate. So I think it it likely useful.

Related posts:

Steady contribution to Firefox support forums

Every once in a while I go over to the Mozilla support forums to this query for questions asked in the last 24 hours that haven’t been answered. I like how it’s phrased. Right now it’s “6 questions in the last 24 hours have no reply. Help solve them!”. That’s out of 86 questions asked in the last day.

Looking up the answers is interesting. To answer the question, I poke around on the support forums, do a general google search, and usually find something relevant or can at least link to advice. Hopefully, the person asking the question feels happy to get a reply even if the answer isn’t easy! And, sometimes, other people who are support forum regulars come in afterwards and give a better answer or correct my answer. So I am not afraid to answer wrong; other people are on it, and if their answers are more useful they will get voted up higher on the answers page. Either way, there is plenty to learn by trying to answer well, giving a link or a source for the information, and just plain being nice to people.

Then I take a look at my SUMO user profile to see my stats build up. I only answer a question now and then, and have edited and translated a few articles. Actually I’m a sucker for anything that shows a steady buildup of activity and any kind of stats. While my mere 38 questions answered isn’t a lot compared to some of the incredibly dedicated contributors on the support leaderboard. It is like a little dragon hoard of evidence that I did something and that is satisfying even when it’s a very small hoard!

Sumo user profile 913

I only realized recently there are canned responses for replying in the support forums. There is an icon like a top hat, or a magician’s hat, which I didn’t notice for months. Perhaps from being a person who is way more into text than images.

Sumo magichat

It never occurred to me to click on that hat. Then someone mentioned it on IRC. Wow! I may file a bug to suggest adding a label next to it, that appears even when you don’t mouse over the hat. (Or is it a can… or a bucket?)

The selection of common responses is extremely useful. Basically there is a lot of infrastructure built to support, not just the people coming to look for answers, but the community contributors answering the questions.

Sumo canned

Bugzilla now has user profiles which I’ll be working to improve and make useful. You can see a person’s last activity in bugzilla.mozilla.org, the number of bugs they’ve filed, commented on, and various other stats that may be relevant to bug reporters, bug triagers, and developers. I’ll post more about this soon!

By the way, my avatar on SUMO, though it kind of looks like me with its purple hair, is from a game called Glitch that closed in late 2012. Glitch was a descendent of Game Neverending. GNE had an image management and social network build into it that became Flickr. I still miss Glitch – it was a great game and a beautiful community!

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