Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Since the MoCo all-hands at the beginning of the month, I've been mostly focused on getting 3.5 out the door. And that has mostly meant triaging and fixing a variety of video/audio bugs. I'm glad to report that that has gone very well! Over a couple of weeks we fixed a large number of bugs, a lot more than I expected we'd be able to get done for 3.5. Some highlights:

  • We've put video/audio decoding and playback into their own threads, so decoding keyframes for very large videos (which can take hundreds of milliseconds) does not cause any skipping
  • We fixed A/V sync to follow the hardware clock on Mac and Linux, fixing sync issues on those platforms
  • By default we stop loading a video after we've got enough data to display the first frame, unless overridden by 'autoplay', 'autobuffer' or script requests; we also fire the 'suspend' event when appropriate
  • We implemented support for Theora's non-square pixel aspect ratios
  • We implemented support for Theora's clipping of the video display area
  • We made the time scale for an Ogg stream always appear to start at 0 as far as scripts are concerned, even if the stream's internal timestamps start at a nonzero time
  • We made seeking within data ranges already downloaded in the media cache pretty much instantaneous (seeking into unbuffered data is still slow unfortunately)
  • We implemented seeking to any intermediate frame without visual artifacts

As well as all that, we also fixed a bunch of other stability and spec-compliance bugs. We seem to be in pretty good shape for open video in 3.5.

I took the weekend off (strange phrase, that) and our family took the train down to Wellington on Saturday and flew back today (Monday) morning. The trip down was great, saw a bit of snow in the volcanic plateau and lots of great countryside. Wellington's weather forecast was "cold southerly gales" and that's exactly what we got! It was exciting to experience Wellington at its Wellingtonest, especially when we took the bus to Lyall Bay and got blown away by the wild wind and waves there. It was a great trip.

This week I should be back working on compositor stuff. I've done a lot of work to change the way native widgets are handled and now I'm working on widget-less IFRAMes. Hopefully some stuff will be ready for checkin soon --- I'll talk more about it then.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Mozilla Corporation All-Hands And Other Adventures

The MoCo All-Hands was tons of fun. I'm a bit annoyed that bits of our project planning ended up on Slashdot within a few days --- the perils of being open! Why doesn't this happen to other projects? Anyway, I felt the time was quite productive beyond just feeding Slashdot. With a couple of exceptions, meetings were goal-oriented and we were able to reach decisions. Of course it was also great to meet a number of new MoCo developers and other staff.

I also took the chance to meet up with friends, as I often do. So many of my friends have gravitated to the Bay Area, I can only visit a subset of them on every trip, which is a bit awkward! Still it's great that I get to seem them.

I drove up to Berkeley a couple of times. On Saturday I met up with my friend and we visited the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, but spent most of the time sitting in the museum cafe talking about browser security! On Tuesday I met with a number of faculty, students and post-docs to talk about their research. One thing I kept emphasizing was that too much security research is really research in *insecurity* --- finding all kinds of new attacks! We already know there are lots of problems and at this point, we need more emphasis on defense. Unfortunately defense is harder and less amenable to crisp results. But we talked about how bug-finding technology could be used to speed up the bug fix cycle, by applying the technology to improve debugging and to search for regressions that would be caused by a patch. I'm hopeful we'll see progress in those areas.

I really enjoyed the trip, although I'm finding that every time away I miss my family a little bit more. The flights were good. Movie picoreviews:

  • Yes Man: OK
  • Quantum of Solace: pretty good
  • Valkyrie: OK (I wanted to like it more for the history and the compelling situation, but there seemed to be some unexplained important jumps)
  • Taken: mediocre
  • Defiance: OK
  • In Bruges: brilliant!