Thursday, 21 June 2007

Wellington

Quick update ... had a great trip to Wellington yesterday. Thanks very much to Natasha and the rest of the Webstock gang. My Webstock talk seemed to go down pretty well apart from a couple of issues ... the extraordinarily bright lighting (needed for video recording) made it impossible to see the audience --- questions just came out of the void! Also, during the talk I got a wee bit confused about which version of the talk I was giving and went into autopilot for a little while ... dunno if anyone noticed! I met a bunch of interesting people whose names I mostly forgot --- sorry everyone! My name-remembering neurons have been mostly cannibalized for other purposes.

Earlier in the day I gave a similar, more research-oriented version of the same talk at Victoria University. It was a lot of fun being there talking to academic types again about research, and Firefox of course.

I made recruiting a bit of a theme yesterday. Some people seemed interested although I haven't received a flood of emails (yet?). It breaks my heart to hear about terribly smart people doing IT backends or ex-browser-developers working on bank contracts! There's a better way to live!

Wellington turned on great weather yesterday, and looked lovely. The flight down was great too, with a fantastic view of Mt Taranaki ... truly an ur-mountain.

In Mozilla news, Vlad and I sorted out the new-textframe crasher that caused problems when we tried to turn on new-textframe last week. Hopefully we'll get it turned on for real tomorrow. I'm feeling rather swamped right now with 90+ bugs worth of bugmail to read. Hopefully I can dig out soon. Chris is making great progress on <video>, now he can play at least 640x480 without dropping frames or losing AV sync. His code also has the nice feature that decoding happens on its own thread so it benefits from multicore. Still lots to do...



4 comments:

  1. "It breaks my heart to hear about terribly smart people doing IT backends or ex-browser-developers working on bank contracts! There's a better way to live!"
    "Better way to live" here assumes that quality of life is primarily about solving interesting problems at work. That's only one (albeit important) part of the picture. If you compare what Mozilla pays their engineers with what one might get from working on "IT backends" or "bank contracts", I think you'll find why certain people have a different take on what is the "better way to live".
    I'd love to be wrong, though :) Finding the "better way to live" in this respect is something that I still struggle with.

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  2. Robert O'Callahan21 June 2007 19:19

    > "Better way to live" here assumes that quality
    > of life is primarily about solving interesting
    > problems at work.
    First of all, I was being a little over the top so don't take it too seriously. Secondly, I was thinking more about impact on the world as well as "interesting problems". I moved from full-time research to full-time Firefox because of the importance of the project, not because the problems were more interesting.
    Mozilla pays enough to live comfortably on ... you could make more money, but the marginal improvement in utility diminishes at this level for most people. I think it's actually an amazing luxury that people like me can get paid what is --- in absolute terms --- an awful lot of money to do work that we enjoy and is an important public good. I'm not talking about just Mozilla here...
    I respect the position that "it's just work" --- I think it's very important that work not dominate one's life --- but nevertheless, if you're spending the majority of your waking time on something, I think the world-impact of your work should be considered.

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  3. "His code also has the nice feature that decoding happens on its own thread so it benefits from multicore"
    I've always wondered (and maybe this isn't the right place to ask) but if they're any plans by Mozilla to make the Firefox UI multi-threaded? So if one tab was doing something CPU intensive (i.e. loading a plug in or rendering an extremely large page) the remaining tabs won't freeze while that operation takes place ...

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  4. jkp: see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=multicore and note especially Igor's comment 10: responsive UI should not require an extra CPU.
    I'll repeat here what I wrote in comment 22: "... threads are for exploiting hardware parallelism, in restricted ways (and processes are better because they don't share memory)."
    This is not to blow off concerns and real bugs to do with responsiveness. We care about those a lot, and we're willing to take on risk to improve the current responsiveness of Firefox (see just to pick one example the Mozilla bug with id "js-unwind").
    But threads are not the answer to responsiveness bugs; threads have downsides that can't be ignored. As my blog put it, mainly as a cautionary tale to warn kids away from this attractive nuisance, "threads suck".
    /be

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