posts during March 2009

Mozilla Roomba Users Group

I was never a fan of extracurricular activities in high school or college, so I surprised even myself when I recently formed the Mozilla Roomba Users Group – a club of home-cleaning-robot enthusiasts. The idea was that interested Roomba owners and spectators at Mozilla would get together and participate in events testing the various skills of the robots. Our first RUG meeting was today, with three of the four members in attendance: myself, osunick, and dolske.

The first event was “function properly”, in which all participating robots were placed on a conference room table and released from slumber to interact with each other. Sadly, osunick’s roomba did not function properly, and had to be disqualified from subsequent events. fligtar and dolske tied for winning the first event, as both of their roombas functioned properly.

The second event was a timed race from one end of the table to the other, knocking a styrofoam section completely off the table. Both robots started off with a straight path, tying at 12 seconds each. The meeting was heating up, with both dolske and fligtar tied with 2 events won.

The last event of this meeting was a synchronized demo race. The first roomba to pass others by more than a second in the recorded demo would emerge victorious. fligtar’s roomba was able to pull ahead of dolske’s midway through the demo to clinch the event and meeting, with 3 events won to dolske’s 2.

I recently discovered a cool plug-in for iTunes that shows a calendar of upcoming shows and album releases for the artists in your music library. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, my calendar is pretty full, but I’ve already found a number of great events in the next month that I didn’t know about. The plug-in is called iConcertCal and works on Mac and Windows.

Since moving to California, I’ve found myself listening to the radio a lot more than in previous years. I think this is largely because my favorite station here plays a lot more of the music I like and has a lot of new artists and songs that I haven’t heard before. Music and Firefox add-ons have a lot in common. Both are ways of expressing yourself and customizing your lifestyle. Both are made by professionals, but also by students, hobbyists, and anyone with a passion for their idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way for me to discover relevant new add-ons as easily as I discover new music?

In November, we launched Fashion Your Firefox, which was a collection of add-ons that we felt were great for a novice user just getting started with customizing their browser. Now, we’d like to take it a step further and let anyone create their own collection of add-ons that can be shared with their friends, posted on blogs, and featured on the Firefox Add-ons website.

Just as a DJ selects which songs to play and comment on, we want to let anyone create a list of add-ons on any topic — whether it’s “Justin’s Must-have Firefox Extensions”, “David’s Favorite Travel Add-ons”, or “Nicole’s St. Patrick’s Day Themes”. These user-created collections would appear in a directory alongside collections created by Mozilla. We’re interested in what sorts of collections people would create, and what collections you’d like to see in the directory. Please share your ideas with us in the comments.

Fast movie downloads.

We’re very excited about this idea and hope that it will improve add-on discovery, increase user involvement with add-ons, improve the stickiness of the add-ons website, and make add-ons more social. If you’re interested in learning more about the project, you can visit our project wiki.