I’ve just returned from our third guest lecture on Mozilla development. Today we had Mike Shaver, and, since she’s still on vacation, Tyla came too—it was a family affair. Last night on IRC, in between Shaver’s comments (nay, abuse) about my incorrect use of the subjunctive, the students and I hammered out a list of questions for him to tackle. Now that the class projects are rolling, it was a great chance to ask someone with such breadth and depth of Mozilla about pieces important to them. We heard about testing, ideas for Linux integration, thoughts on OS X keychain, and distcc msvc progress, to name a few. And all of it in that typical understated stand-up comedian style Mike is so good at.
I think one of the most interesting and successful pieces was Shaver’s demonstration of how he uses lxr. He took a simple example—adding a bookmark—and showed how he would progressively work his way down through the code in order to find the particular function he was after. It’s the kind of archeological task for which there is no manual (if I’m wrong about this, feel free to email me the URL!). The only way to acquire this knowledge is through participation in the oral tradition, and having access to a great storyteller like Mike.
One of the things Shaver discussed at length was the value of the million little pieces that go into making the larger whole that is Mozilla. The students are starting to understand this, and realizing that they can find success in their own areas of interest. A great example of this is Erin, who came to me yesterday trying to find a project related to accessibility. Not an hour later I had mail from Aaron Leventhal with ideas for points of entry and encouragement to get her started. It wouldn’t be possible for Erin or the other students to succeed without the interest and support of the community—something I’m glad to be able to rely upon.
I’ve been getting a fair bit of email asking when we’ll have the lectures available on-line. The answer is soon, but not yet. We’re in the process of digitizing and editing the different cameras, audio, and screencasts into final products. I’ll announce when they do become available so that everyone on the interweb can enjoy what we’re experiencing live. Until then, many thanks to Shaver for this and all the other million things he’s helping me do.