posts categorized as “non-tech”

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.

Having lived in Louisiana my whole life, I never got a chance to see real snow until this summer at the Firefox Summit in Canada. That’s why it was so unexpected for my routine 6-7 hour trip from Baton Rouge to San Jose to turn into a 20 hour ordeal because of snow delays in Houston.

I can’t bear to type out all of the details, but I was supposed to arrive in San Jose at 8:12pm on Wednesday and instead arrived in San Francisco at 6:30am on Thursday, after which I immediately had to attend Add-on-Con without sleeping.

A breakdown of the trip:

  • Hours waiting in airport: 6.5
  • Hours waiting in airplane on ground: 6.5
  • Hours actually flying: 4.75
  • Hours of sleep on the plane: 2

And to top it off, the same snow that made my trip miserable on Wednesday brought fun and joy to everyone back home in Baton Rouge.

My dog Corgy in the snow

As you may (not) know, I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home to swamps, pet alligators, Mardi Gras, cannibalization, Britney Spears, oil companies, and the rest of the world’s evil. And last week, the temporary home of a horrible guest, Hurricane Gustav. The media pretty much stopped reporting on it as soon as it hit (admittedly, there are more important things, like Sarah Palin), but half of Louisiana had no power for days. Baton Rouge was devastated and other areas of the state won’t get power for 4-6 weeks.

If you’ve ever been to Louisiana during the summer (or anytime, really), you know that it is extremely hot and humid and that when the power and air conditioning goes out, older people and others have a lot of trouble breathing. Fortunately I’m not one of them, and I got my power back 2 days ago, 8 days after the storm. Most traffic lights in town are still out and traffic is a nightmare, although the parish curfew ended this morning.

After a few days of being without power and getting very behind in work projects, I headed to Mountain View for a few days to be productive. Things are slowly getting back to normal. Classes started again on Monday because we can’t miss anymore — we’re already having to go on a few Saturdays to make up last week.

I gave a presentation on Web Analytics this morning. When I told the class that I’d be talking about Web Analytics, before I even mentioned Mozilla, someone immediately raised their hand and asked if I know the “analytics pioneer” Ken Kovash. I lied and said no, because frankly I’m tired of everyone asking me to get his autograph, strands of hair, chewing gum, etc. for them. You’ll have to wait in line like everyone else.

Mozilla Summit

This week I’m in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada for the Mozilla Firefox Summit – a gathering of 300-400 of the contributors to Firefox 3. Whistler is outside of Vancouver and the trip is about 3 hours on the Sea to Sky Highway, a winding mountain road with beautiful sites and lots of construction in preparation for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.

Last night around 11:00pm there was a rockslide on this road that left boulders the size of houses that will have to be cleared by dynamite and will take days. The only other way out of Whistler, besides helicopter and floatplane, is a 6-8 hour trip the other way around the mountain. I leave at 11pm Friday night, so not sure what the plan is for getting 400 people out yet.

Having lots of fun and will post a more detailed update on that later.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
There’s an awesome miniseries out right now called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. The first act came out earlier this week, the second came out today, and the third comes out on Saturday — but they’ll only be up until Sunday unless you buy them on iTunes.

I suggest heading over to and watching them now – they’re fairly short but awesome. They’re created/directed by Joss Whedon, the guy who made Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. They star Neil Patrick Harris and 2 people I’ve never heard of.

Thanks to John for the link!