Monday, October 20, 2014

My movies of choice

Movies have always been a big part of my life. I can honestly say a large part of my personality, my likes and dislikes and my overall attitude towards life can be at least partly attributed to the movies I've seen.

A few years ago I decided to start a list on IMDb, to try to determine how many movies I've watched my whole life. That list is up to around 600 movies right now, and it's not even close to finished. There are many movies I forgot to put on the list, and many movies I still haven't watched.

I've clearly spent a few months of my life watching movies (part of them I watched more than once, some of them I watched up to 20-30 times). And I haven't even counted the hours I spent watching Friends, Scrubs, Futurama, Stargate, House, and the list goes on. And I also watched countless hours of stand-up.

Was that time wasted? Yes, and no. As I said, I've learned a lot from movies, about culture, history and language. Things I would miss about myself if I were to suddenly forget them. A lot of good movies, but I also think I wasted a bunch of time with some of them. No, not the bad ones

No, movies aren't good or bad, it's more a matter of preferences and state of mind. The movies that I find to be worth watching are the ones that change something about me, that touch something in my heart or mind and stay with me for months. The departed was a movie that didn't impress me much. I found it pointless. Not to say that the direction or acting wasn't good, they were. The hurt locker though... I still wish I could get back the time I wasted watching it.

My favourite movies? For a long time it was Phone Book. Then Equilibrium. Inception also rated very high in my book. There's a huge list of movies I loved (maybe I'll blog my top 10-50 sometime in the future).

One of the best movies I've seen last year was About Time. Incredibly hilarious and bitter-sweet movie, that ended on an optimistic note that strongly resonated with the way I like to live my life.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Firefox OS at IMWorld 2014

This past week I had the wonderful opportunity of attending Internet & Mobile World Bucharest, as part of the team promoting Firefox OS. We were stationed at the future corner (along with someone demoing the Google Glass, and producers of drones and 3D printers). It was an awesome but exhausting experience. What blew my mind was the public interest in Firefox OS.

IMWorld was mostly a business event. Companies trying to sell stuff to people looking to sell other things to the same companies. We stood out as one of the few companies not selling anything. We demoed Flame phones, and the Infocus New Tab. We talked to people ranging from CEOs to app developers to regular folks interested in a personal phone.

Interest in the phones was tremendous. Developers were excited that they could integrate Firefox OS into their existing PhoneGap process, use WebIDE in the browser to start development, and by the fact that their applications could run on Android or Windows or Mac without changing a single line of code.

Regular smartphone users were really excited by the availability of common applications they use, by the easy to use interface and by the prospects of buying such a phone.

We also promoted the Matchstick HDMI stick which is currently on Kickstarter. I have high hopes for that one.

Anyway, upon discussing with hundreds of people excited about the work we're doing and eager to use and support for our products, I am more confident than ever that we will succeed in our goals. Firefox OS looked like a long shot when it was first announced, another nice-idea mobile project that would never see the light of day. A couple of years later, with over a dozen devices on the market, selling in more than 20 countries, people are starting to pay attention and are baffled by the fact that you can make a difference in the current mobile landscape. I can't wait to see the next few years of Firefox OS.

(Update) Thanks to +Stefania Ioana Chiorean +Gabriel Ivanica +Marcela Oniga +Andreea Popescu +Alex Lakatos for doing an awesome job at the booth, and +Christian Heilmann for a great talk.

Also, thanks to the people at the booth next to ours, Mode360, who did a 360 degree scan of our phone and mascot.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Upstream Challenge 2014 wrap up

This weekend marked the end of the 2014 edition of Upstream Challenge, an awesome competition aimed at getting more students to contribute to Open Source projects. I figured I'd lay down some thoughts about how it went.

This year we had around 340 submissions, ranging from one line patches, to pull requests containing dozens of commits. By number of submissions, the projects that received a significant number of contributions (more than 20) were Marble KDE, WoUSO, libcmis, Linux Kernel, privly and digiKam. Having rated a bunch of them in this competition revealed them to be very well written, and very significant to each project.

I'm also a bit disappointed that despite my efforts to get people to contribute to Firefox, only 3 patches were entered in the competition. (2 other contributions were made, but students either didn't care or didn't want to submit them to this competition). The lesson I've learned from this is that it's better to find a couple of students really passionate about a project, and focus your energy on them, rather than try to inspire dozens to make a leap of faith and dedicate their precious time to a project they may or may not care about.

[ As a side note, one of the students I mentored last year completed a very successful internship at Mozilla this summer. ]

So, what did go well in the competition? 
* Well, this year the awards were a bit more evenly distributed. The first place in each track got an Amazon Fire HDX tablet, second prize was a Pebble smart watch, and third place was a Raspberry Pi.
* We got a lot of quality patches in Open Source projects.
* The competition had a lot of visibility among students, even though only 19 entered any patches in the competition.
* More projects than last year.

What could have been better?
* The procedure for entering new projects and patches in the competition was still a bit cumbersome, and required using the mailing list.
* Evaluating the patches could have been more transparent. Although I feel it was fair, the quality and impact criteria were a bit loosely defined.
* A system of entering, describing and reviewing your own patches would have been really awesome (maybe next time)
* We should have had much many more events promoting the competition.
* The person who designed the website changed the license of the source code, so the website got crippled just after the event.

What next?
We are starting to plan for next year's event.

I would like to thank +Valentin Ilie +Razvan Deaconescu +Daniel Baluta +Marius Ungureanu for their effort and dedication in organizing this competition, as well as Mozilla and Intel for sponsoring it.