The Truth about Mozilla

Mozilla in 2008: Web Development

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 27, 2007

 Moving to a happier future, Mozilla’s Web Development team, led by Mike Morgan (aka, morgamic), has some lofty goals for the next year. Given the hilarity Morgan infuses in his writing, the Lizard believes some direct quoting is in order. To wit:

In 2008, we will make web pages. They won’t be normal web pages though. They will be web pages that grab your attention, put it in a headlock and leave you wondering what hit you. This means less status quo and more sexy. It’s less chomping at the bit and more leaping ahead.

…and yes, the future will be localized. And yes, the future is accessible.

2008 will see the emergence of a presence that watches the Webtools product in Bugzilla and can solve webtools-security bugs in 10 f-ing hours. That same presence will help pick up stagnant web-apps and get things moving with help from the community.

To put it bluntly, we’re dying to show what we can do.

Yes, dear readers, Mozilla can be funny. I was just as surprised as you. (For those hiding under rocks for the past few months, “10 f-ing hours” refers to the “misquote”, aka idiocy, of Mike Shaver when he stated that Mozilla could, with responsible disclosure, patch and deploy any critical security holes within “Ten Fucking Days”. Shaver’s idiocy, however, isn’t the topic of this post; the Lizard already wrote about that here.)

Looking deeper at these lighthearted passages, Morgan promises tangible results with real benefit to Mozilla and the world: localization and accessibility of Mozilla’s web properties. Some of this has already been achieved with the release of the new (AMO), which allowed for a localized interface, as well as with the fabled Kubla, which simply allows better interaction with, and rights management of, SVN. Work is also underway to make localized content possible on top of Tikiwiki, the CMS/Wiki software Mozilla selected for its support site.

Morgan goes on to imply that the unowned web tools that power Mozilla, such as Bonsai, Doctor, Graph Server, LXR, and potentially semi-owned tools like Despot, Reporter, and Tinderbox, will receive attention in 2008 and possibly even find themselves under active development. Supporting projects your own organization has created? Crazy. Granted, most of these projects were created before Morgan’s time. 

The future doesn’t stop there, however. Morgan continues to discuss the birth of a project along the lines of Launchpad, Babelzilla, and Rosetta, allowing easier localization of strings within Mozilla’s codebase.

When a string needs to be localized, anybody in any country can log in, see where we need help, and contribute.

A bold statement, but one that would be welcomed by localizers around the world. 

Morgan further promises improvements to services like AUS, PFS, AMO, and Bouncer, as well as the creation of an open-source IdeaStorm to help increase user feedback and participation. 

It’s hard to criticize the web development team at Mozilla because of how much they’ve done, time and time again. The Lizard questions the amount of work this team has opted to take on and wonders if it can finish it. However, the endeavors are greatly appreciated and will truly, concretely, help the overall community in exciting ways. If Morgan and his team can accomplish this, Mozilla will be a better place. 

To put it bluntly, we’re dying to see what you can do!

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Mozilla in 2008: Evangelism

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 27, 2007

The Lizard wouldn’t be a true asshole without taking a few digs at Mozilla’s Chief Evangelist, Mike Shaver. Between calling him an ass and dissing his team at Mozilla, the Lizard has been harsh with no substance to back it up. Until now.

The second Mozilla in 2008 piece centers around the evangelism team, led by Shaver.

In internal documents, the Evangelism team says they’ll be working on “communication and co-ordination channels” this next year. We’ve all seen the beginning of this work in the form of the “about:mozilla” weekly newsletter as well as the beginnings of “For the Record,” a “community-driven public relations and press response program.”

Before “For the Record” gets utterly thrashed, let me first say that the Lizard welcomes the about:mozilla newsletter with open arms. For once, it seems like Mozilla is giving thought, even care, to projects throughout the entire community. I commend this move by the Evangelism team and recommend everyone sign up for this newsletter. Special thanks to Deb Richardson for creating and managing this endeavor.

Now, where were we? That’s right, the idiocy that is the “For the Record” program. Despite its seemingly noble intentions, this program exists only to make Mozilla look good. Every time dirty laundry gets aired publicly (i.e. now), a plethora of Mozilla fanbois will be waiting to jump and kill the babies of those who have disagreed with Almighty Mozilla. Such a program is meant for nothing more than silencing dissenters using the strength of multitudes. And yet, dissent is what brought Mozilla this far. Why kill it? Because doing so would hurt the power of the mothership. Sound familiar?

Those two things aren’t the only components of Shaver’s future work.

The Evangelism team was specifically created to ensure that Mozilla’s message of bullshit is spread throughout the world. Part of this involves “community town hall meetings” and even “classic ‘tech evangelism’ work”.

Mozilla hopes that the pseudo-openness and transparency of “town hall meetings” will help them tell the world about the “Open Web”. You might recognize this from every Mozilla press conference ever. Or maybe you’re blind, deaf, and stupid.

As for the “classic ‘tech evangelism’ work”, if Mozilla truly decides to devote resources to evangelizing sites which still admit only Netscape or even Firefox browsers instead of all browsers built on Mozilla’s “Gecko” rendering engine, the Lizard would welcome that as well. The fear, of course, is that this is all utter bullshit and the Evangelism team will do exactly 0 on projects that help anyone other than themselves. In all of this, Shaver is quick to point out that the Evangelism team will be more targeted and only “execute on … tightly controlled top priority items” but never discusses how such items are prioritized. A hundred dollar donation to Mozilla if I’m wrong and the Evangelism team does, in fact, spend a useful amount of time on tech evangelism.

Finally, in a true representation of his childish character, Shaver ends his 2008 “story” with.

Chris Messina could not be reached for comment.

Way to diss someone who cares! That’s how you build a strong and vibrant community! Even if this post was meant to be private, being a complete ass about someone who cares isn’t appropriate. Sadly, that’s a mere reflection of how things already exist and a sign of things to come.

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Mozilla in 2008: Recruiting

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 26, 2007

The Lizard’s first look into the crystal ball reveals details of Mozilla’s recruiting intentions.

Are you friends with someone who works at Mozilla? Get ready! You’re about to be spammed!

Mozilla’s recruiting plans for the New Year include finding the “best/brightest people” that their employees have worked with or met and spamming them until they join Mozilla. As if that wasn’t enough, the group, led by Dan Portillo, will create a “wish list of high-impact hires” and begin the recruiting process on them. Look out Dave Hyatt, Joe Hewitt, Blake Ross, and Ben Goodger. Mozilla’s coming for you!

This team will also become educators at Mozilla. They’ll be creating a curriculum around “Open Standards”. Can we say “lame?” I think we can. Let’s say it together. Lame. Creating curriculum sounds like a job for the Evangelism team, but the Lizard doesn’t think anyone expects Shaver to do anything useful with that group. What does Mozilla hope to accomplish with the creation of this propaganda curriculum? Is this really the most effective way to reach its goal? Wait a damn second. What goal? Did Mozilla even set a goal for this work? Shit no! Why would they?

(I’ll be the first to volunteer writing a lesson plan. It shall be titled, Mozilla’s Fuck-up: A Twenty-Page Essay.)

Portillo and his gang will also work hard on retention. With more and more key, long-time employees taking off, I can see why someone needs to think about retaining the ones stupid enough to stay.

What will they do? “Problem solving competitions, movie nights, [and] a softball league” are some ideas.

Holy fuck. A softball league! Why didn’t I think of that? That’s going to keep Mozilla’s star pupils around. Definitely. Who the fuck thinks of these things? It doesn’t take a genius to know what people want in a good employer. Movie nights? Softball? Bitch, please. Benefits? Money? Maybe. Honesty? Transparency? Hot damn, we’re getting somewhere! Not screwing over the community that’s supported your rise to power? Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

How about trying to be less evil this coming year, Mozilla?

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Mozilla in 2008: A Series

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 26, 2007

The Lizard has received a number of documents about Mozilla’s plans in 2008. For the next few articles, we’ll explore these articles in detail – some word-for-word – and see what Mozilla has in store for the next year.

  1. Recruiting
  2. Evangelism
  3. Web Development
  4. Marketing
  5. Executive Committee
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The Night Before Mozilla’s Christmas

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 25, 2007

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even Josh Aas;
Now all of the Corp was hard working with care,
In hopes that Foxfire 3 soon would be there;

The community wrestled with Shaver’s huge head,
And even contended that Baker was dead;
Or sleeping at least, watching her stock,
Letting Brendan and Beard take care of the flock;
When out from the ‘sphere there arose such a clatter,
She sprang from her bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the blog they flew like a flash,
Contacted their sources in more than a dash.
No trace of this beast was there to show,
And who would chastise the great manifesto?
And then, to my wondering eyes did appear,
A miniature gallows, the hangmen quite near.

With this sideways-haired driver, so lively and quick,
I thought for a moment, “It must be Shaver, that prick.”
For never before had she moved with such speed,
Baker now called them to follow her lead;
“Now Blizzard! now, Schroepfer! now, Riley and Connor!
On Lilly! on, Hofmann! on, Boswell and Dotzler!
To the top of the web, to head off the breach!
Find him! Please find him! To you, I beseech!”
Then far off they went, to look low and high,
They’d find him and kill him, he’d finally die!
So all through the payroll, all through the valley,
They started the search, started the tally.

There were some who had left, some who were fired,
Others soon passing, many just tired.
Who dare leak the truths of the almighty jaeger?
Not Spitzer, not Reed, not even MacGregor.
But one of them must have been spreading these words,
One of them, two of them, maybe twothirds.

Blizzard pushed hard, the evangel of new,
Trying to distract from the contrary view.
Schroepfer was mad, all red in the face,
But no one could tell, wasn’t this always the case?
Riley sat quiet, as often he does,
Connor stopped shaving, and ugly it was.
Lilly called foul, looked deep for the leak.
He threatened to fire anyone who did speak.
Hofmann, dead silent, saw all of it coming,
But would anyone listen after all of this numbing?
Boswell tried hard to appease all the projects,
Dotzler just bitched — he was very perplexed.
Had they all done their jobs, distracted the masses?
Baker was proud of Shaver’s new asses.

But look! Up above! What’s that they all see?
A bird! No, a plane! No, a Lizard that’s free!
Spreading the truth, killing the lies,
Bringing joy to all and soon a surprise!
And as he flew by, with a fire in his mouth,
He shouted these words, east, west, north, and south:
“I’ve yelled and I’ve moaned, I’ve spread mounds of truth,
But more now is coming, this is only my youth!
You won’t find your leak, as hard as you try,
Go home to your families, Christmas is nigh!”

He hovered above us, seemed ready to leave,
Then took off toward Eden, a card up his sleeve.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

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Mozilla ♥ Bugzilla, SeaMonkey, Camino, and Accessibility… Because it has to

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 22, 2007

In the previous post, the Lizard stated (emphasis added):

In case that wasn’t clear enough to some of you morons, Mozilla needs people to give money to it or it loses it’s “public charity” status. The law says so. Let’s analyze that a bit more. Mozilla’s revenue mostly consists of revenue from their Google, nay, search bar. Since that infamous deal was made, what fools would possibly decide to give Mozilla more money? Don’t they get enough as it is? Internally, Mozilla must be working on a way to generate more donations from individual users. If they aren’t, they need to get into gear. Losing their public charity status is the first step down a rocky slope to losing non-profit status.

Since the Lizard was an immense moron (not unlike my readers) and didn’t publish that post until after a visit to Bermuda, that paragraph doesn’t have near the effect it should.

Mozilla fulfilled that paragraph by starting the “directed giving” program. Does anyone at Mozilla really give a flying fuck what happens to Bugzilla, SeaMonkey, Camino, or Mozilla accessibility? Hell fucking no! The only of those four Mozilla has ever cared about is accessibility and only insomuch as is required to comply with government standards. Hear that deaf man? Mozilla doesn’t really care about you.

(How many accessibility engineers work for Mozilla? Hint: 0; Aaron Leventhal works for IBM. How many are on the quality assurance team, focusing on accessibility? Hint: 1; the only recently hired Marco Zehe.)

Does Mozilla care about Bugzilla? How many employees work on Bugzilla, the oh-my-god-this-bug-tracker-sucks-so-much premier bug tracker Mozilla itself uses? 0.

Does Mozilla care about SeaMonkey? Given the initial support it received (none) where the community took over the then-named “Suite”, one can’t possibly believe that Mozilla cares about SeaMonkey.

Does Mozilla care about Camino? Most believe the Camino team is wasting its time and should contribute to Firefox for Mac. As a result, they commonly joke about breaking Camino’s tinderbox.

There may be a few individuals who care about one or all of the projects above, but as a whole, as a company, and, specifically, as a group of leaders guiding the future of open source, they don’t care and likely never will.

Given the above, why in Lord Jesus, Almighty’s name would they “support” these projects with a donations program and 2 for 1 matching? Because Mozilla had to find a way to grow the amount of donations they received. Becoming a private foundation isn’t an option. Losing their non-profit status is even less an option. The war-chest of money Mozilla, nay, Ms Baker has built up would be damaged if Mozilla had to start paying taxes at the Foundation level as well.

The Lizard has no doubt that Frank Hecker and others within the Mozilla community wanted this change, personally. Taking three years to set it up is a direct result of the board at the Mozilla Foundation and, specifically, the chair of that board, not wanting to support anything beyond Firefox. The change took place only to supplement the income Mozilla already receives and give it some ability to generate donations, which have been incredibly lacking.

Does this mean you shouldn’t donate to Mozilla? Not at all. If you support any one of those four projects, the Lizard encourages you to donate to them. But I’ll be damned if you have any illusions as to why this program exists.

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Analyzing Mozilla’s 2006 Financials

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 22, 2007

(After returning from vacation, the Lizard realized a few posts were left un-published. Here’s the first.)

The Lizard is in appreciation mode today thanks to Mitchell Baker, who finally released the Mozilla Foundation’s financials for 2006. While I’m sure the timing was purely coincidental (mere hours after my most recent post which briefly requested them), seeing these numbers helped grow an ounce of trust in the Foundation and Mozilla as a whole.

Before we, together, delve into the questions that these newly published documents raise, it’s important to point out the parts where your faithful Lizard was right on.

First, Ms Baker indeed made well over $500,000 in 2006; a total of $567,262 in compensation was paid to Ms Baker. I, for one, do not consider a 2005 salary increase an overstatement. I consider it a salary increase. Who the fuck decided it was an “overstatement” of what Ms Baker made? Seriously folks, what in God Almighty’s name would make anyone call that an overstatement? Likewise, that must have been a pretty fucking huge bonus. Taking out $100,000, she still made over $400,000 in 2006. Is this what Mozilla wastes its money on?

Despite the above, I want to note that the intention of the previous post was not to lay blame or anger on Ms Baker, but to simply outline that she truly, really, honestly has incredible power in the Mozilla world, gets paid well for holding that power, and doesn’t (visibly) do shit to deserve it. The same could be true of anyone else at the helm, but someone else isn’t at the helm. She is.

(Another executive, Brendan Eich, leads the technical side, albeit not without conflict; leadership always has conflict. He also gets paid handsomely for it: some $404,634. Mr Eich, however, is constantly visible. In the fight for ECMAScript 4 [JavaScript 2], in arguments over technical issues regarding Mozilla 2, in general guidance on how to plow forward with Mozilla technology, Mr Eich is everywhere. I can’t say the same for Ms Baker. Is it truly greed that motivates? The Lizard will be damned to know. What exists are only facts, and the assumptions generated belong only to this blog.)

Secondly, the Lizard slightly underestimated Mozilla’s yearly total revenue at $60,000,000. The correct amount, for 2006, was $66,840,850.

And on we go to the questions that have now arisen.

One of the major questions that must be asked is: How much is Mozilla paying in taxes due to the Corporation being a taxable entity? PDF page 6 of the financial statement seems to indicate that $26,777,000 was paid for income taxes. Wouldn’t that money be better off doing the work of the open source world than in the hands of Uncle Sam? The Lizard really dislikes government institutions. The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit. Aren’t there ways around this tax payment? Hasn’t Mozilla ever heard of creative financing? Jiminy Crickets! That’s a lot of wasted money.

A second major question that arises is surrounding the new-to-my-readers-but-not-to-me knowledge that Mozilla’s contract with Google ends in November of 2008 (see PDF page 13 of the financial statement). More importantly, 85% of Mozilla’s revenue comes from that contract. Eighty. Five. Percent. One more time for kicks: Eighty. Five. Percent. If things go sour with Google, Mozilla’s fucked. But of course, young grasshopper, Mozilla will say there are others who will come knocking on the door, such as Yahoo!, Windows Live (née MSN), and Ask. Will Mozilla abandon their principles to make a buck, or will they enter the search engine market themselves? If the reason Mozilla switched from Yahoo! in Asian countries was solely for a better experience for users of Firefox, how could Mozilla use anything other than Google?

Another question appeared out of form 990. While the Lizard is a character of many traits, none of them approach non-profit tax law. Before explaining this all, I’d like to give special thanks to a non-profit accountant who answered my question about PDF page 15 line 26f which states that Mozilla received 33.4513% public support. Perplexed as to why this number mattered, the Lizard got the following. Quoting:

“Non-profts which qualify for 501(c)(3) status fall under two categories: public charity and private foundation. The Mozilla Foundation is a public charity. To maintain their public charity status, they must maintain income of at least 33% from the public (averaged over a five year period). If they don’t, they become a private foundation which has more restrictions on money management. ‘Public’ in the context above refers to individual and corporate donations not investment income. Those donations can’t come from only a few individuals, however, without moving toward private foundation status.”

In case that wasn’t clear enough to some of you morons, Mozilla needs people to give money to it or it loses it’s “public charity” status. The law says so. Let’s analyze that a bit more. Mozilla’s revenue mostly consists of revenue from their Google, nay, search bar. Since that infamous deal was made, what fools would possibly decide to give Mozilla more money? Don’t they get enough as it is? Internally, Mozilla must be working on a way to generate more donations from individual users. If they aren’t, they need to get into gear. Losing their public charity status is the first step down a rocky slope to losing non-profit status.

Finally, the Lizard appreciated that Ms Baker’s aforementioned “overstated” salary received a special note in the FAQ. Word on the street suggests that note is solely due to this blog. Sources can be wrong, but the rumour mill has consistently pointed out that this blog is read internally by many at Mozilla, including Ms Baker herself.

To you all the Lizard writes: You’re not scared yet, are you? You’re all too ignorant and arrogant to be scared. You’re just offended that anyone could disagree with the carefully crafted messages that the public normally gets. You’re all hard at work looking for the leak, pointing fingers all around but not able to make sense of any of it. You won’t find a leak. You won’t find anything like that. Looking will only waste your time and further delay your precious Firefox 3. Good luck getting to 30%!

The Lizard is Back

Posted in Mozilla by The Lizard on December 22, 2007

The Lizard took a much-needed, terminal-free vacation to Bermuda and is back to fulfill your wildest, wettest dreams. Apologies to those at the Mozilla Corporation who thought I had run out of information to disclose.

The Lizard is back.

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