In The News Mozilla

Mission Accomplished?

BusinessWeek has a short post on Firefox, a good (but short) read, my favorite is:

…Firefox has anywhere from a 10% to 18% worldwide market share among browser users, depending who is counting, and almost every Web site that matters makes it possible for Firefox users to fully access their pages. The turning point came earlier this year when banks and financial services outfits including American Express and Fidelity switched over…

I don’t really like the title “Firefox: Mission Accomplished”, as foolish gloating has a history of coming back to haunt you. Thankfully that appears to be BW’s choice of words. Firefox is far from done. More can be done to improve the users web experience, more site compatibility needs to be fixed, and more people need to be invited to take back the web.

Internet Mozilla

Report Broken Websites!

Since we started we have thousands of reports filed (many on the same sites, some invalid reports, and some just using the tool thinking it’s for tech support requests) reporting issues encountered on the web. This is awesome feedback (and a big thank you to everyone who filed a report). I’ve noticed several sites have since resolved their issue(s). I want to do more. But to do so help is needed (that’s where you come in).

Want to help? It’s simple, you don’t need to write a line of code. Just tell everyone who says something along the lines of “Firefox doesn’t work with” to “Report It!”. Just go to the Help menu and select “Report Broken Website”. Fill out the form as much as you can (it takes < 10 seconds in most cases) and submit. That’s all you have to do to help us!!!

The data can be used two ways:

  • Find websites that should be contacted about their incompatibility. It’s not always laziness, it’s sometimes the sites operators just don’t know because they use IE themselves (workstations have IE installed on them). Having data to show them makes it a much stronger point, and tells them explicitly what’s wrong.
  • Find regressions and problems in Firefox. Using the data, and examining the pages it’s possible to find errors due to Firefox bugs. This is something I hope to improve upon in the future.

I’ve been working on a new version of the webtool to analyze the data which so far looks like it will be making it much easier to do. In Firefox 3.0 I’m hoping to land support for sending us screenshots (opt in only of course) so you can show us your problem if you want. I already drafted a patch for that.

I’m also brainstorming on how to help webmasters who want to improve their Firefox compatibility. More on that some other time. I’ve got more ideas than MacGyver.

So remember, next time you encounter a problem to report it. And tell your friends.


Reporter NextGen

Just a little status update for the curious. I’ve been hacking away at reporter quite a bit lately, after a little break. I discussed my plans a few months ago. My tree now has the ability to send an image of the page I’m reporting to my dev instance of the reporter server. This will make it much easier for us to see what users are trying to tell us.

I’ve also worked on a few of the smaller UI quirks in the client and suggestions given, more will be taken care of before 2.0.

I’ve been spending the bulk of the time on the server, with enhancements (flexible query result table, multiple output formats, next/prev navigation for reports among others), and making it a bit more flexible. For quite a while my dev instance was really buggy, at this point it’s looking pretty good. As soon as I finish with screenshot support, and getting the bugs out of all the stuff that’s been touched, my plans are to make it work better with bugzilla (associate reports with bugzilla bugs). That will make it much easier to go through the data and see what’s acknowledged, and what’s new.

The other big thing I want to do is re-order the query page a bit so that it’s more logically setup and easier to understand if you’ve never used the system before. I’ve got some ideas for grouping. When I get a chance, I’ll make some mock-ups and post them for some feedback. I’ve even been considering a little AJAX to help enhance things a bit in that respect.

One step at a time.


100,000 reports and counting


Reporter has received report #100,000! The first report came in 2005-05-15 10:12:07 PST. Now at we have report 100,000 reports and counting in the database.

And we’re not done. I’ve been going through the data, as well as making reporter better so we can get more out of the data. We’ll be allowing users to [opt-in and] submit screenshots soon. A new improved version of the webtool will allow for better analysis of the data. That’s what’s to come in this next development cycle.

I wanted to stay up for 100k, but it was to late for me. Oh well.

Did I mention our users rock for participating and letting us know what bugs them?


American Express: Fixed

I blogged a while back about American Express being a real problem for Firefox users. This issue (bug 294201) is now fixed! Thanks to everyone who participated on that bug, and of course whomever at American Express actually fixed it.

American Express was by far our most reported website in Firefox 1.5 thus far. So this is a giant win.

While were on the financial sector, eTrade has some issues. It would be awesome if someone went through those reports, and filed bugs (and possibly contact eTrade). Any eTrade users would obviously be encouraged to help as they seem to block their email contact to users only.

I think they would be a good company to try and work with, as financial sites are often the benchmark when companies consider adopting a web browser (like Firefox). Don’t underestimate how important American Express is to this sector. eTrade is another big benchmark.

For those wondering, we don’t delete reports in reporter. When a site fixes the problem, they won’t get any more reports against their hostname, and eventually drop off the list. The historical data can be useful (see where we are in a year and compare). For each release, we update the Top 25 link to only include that particular release, so when Firefox/2.0 ships, there’s a clean slate in that list.

Internet Mozilla

Reporter Most Wanted

American Express is the number one reported website to have issues with Firefox. You can see the report here. It would be great to get this one resolved. So here’s what I need:

If anyone out there works for American Express, or knows someone who does, let them know about this blog post, and ask them to pass the message along to the Web Team.

If you happen to be someone with the capacity to make a difference, let me know. You can also leave a comment with any information you may have to offer.

Again, this is currently the #1 issue regarding website compatibility. It has a ton of reports against it, and viewing a bunch of them myself, they seen to be legitimate.

Firefox is a community effort, so here’s a chance for the community to make a difference. According to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, it’s within our grasp. So if you can’t help, see if you can find someone who can. While your at it, if you have a connection to Kevin Bacon (your no more than 5 intermediaries away), see if you can find out if he uses Firefox [for the unaware, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a rather popular game based on the theory].

Hardware Mozilla Software

New Laptop

I’ve now had about about 48hrs with the new laptop. Just a few thoughts (in no paticular order):

On the plus side

  • Well built as typical of IBM. Nothing if squeaky, flimsy. It feels very solid, despite being so thin.
  • The 9 Cell battery sticks out the back a little (about an inch). And provides longer battery life over standard 6 cell. No big deal and more battery life.
  • ATI Radeon X300 Graphics Chipset (64MB) is much better than the 3200 ATI Radeon 7500 I had.
  • DVD±RW hasn’t been tested yet. I should get some DVD media (anyone have brand preference?)
  • Fingerprint reader is so 007. Very cool way to log in. Now nobody sees you typing your password.
  • Intel 802.11a/b/g card works fine. Not sure why so many people swap them out for IBM cards. As I see it right now, it’s working perfectly.

On the questionable (not really much here)

  • Fan Noise – this is the biggest complaint I’ve heard about the T43. The fan does seem to be a little louder than it should, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. Mine will likely cool a bit when more RAM arrives and my paging file doesn’t cause my hard drive to spin for hours on end.
  • Rescue and Recovery for backup purposes (imaging) isn’t that good. It’s really slow, and doesn’t seem to like incrimental backups. I’m going to order Acronis True Image to do the job instead.
  • PATA->SATA bridge causes many normal ATA drives to produce errors with the IBM BIOS. Ideally IBM would have just used SATA already, or stuck with ATA, but this bridge means great drives like the 7k100 won’t work, at least not yet (fingers crossed they release new ones with upgraded firmware).
  • No 2nd bay for extra hard drive. I’ d have to swap between the DVD/CD drive and another drive
  • No web navigation keys. I got used to having them.

So there’s really not much to improve on. The biggest would be the fan noise, and getting backups to be quick and smooth. Both aren’t that big of a deal. Fan noise I can deal with (my old laptop I think was louder), and the backups will be done with other software.

I’ve also decided to abandon Sygate as my software firewall, and move to Kerio (which is going to be unsupported soon). I really run these only because it’s a laptop, and not always on my clean firewalled network. Anyone have a recommendation for a good (free) firewall on Windows that doesn’t suck (read: no zonealarm). How could it have gone this long without an open source contender? Kerio doesn’t seem to bad, but I don’t like that it’s approaching End of Life.

Oh yea, Opera fans [read: anyone who doesn’t like IE, including Firefox fans] will be interested in this (if they haven’t found this yet). If you boot this system, and press Access IBM you go into an emergency partition on your hard drive (apparantly powered by a scaled down Windows NT or 2000 with a bunch of utilities. One option is to browse the web. On closer examination, they use Opera, not IE (info on the feature found here search for “Get help, by being connected”).

Hardware Mozilla

It’s alive

The laptop story is finally over.

Yesterday, a shiny new Thinkpad T43 arrived. I gave it a few hours yesterday and it performed well, no signs of any problems. I’ve got some extra RAM on order to help things out even further.

Executive Relations did come through, despite some supply issues limiting their abilities. They actually sent two (2) laptops in an attempt to get this resolved by today (Friday 10/21/05). One coming from Lenovo/IBM itself, one coming from a business parter. One arrived yesterday, and one arrived ahead of schedule (today) rather than next week sometime, and will now be mailed back.

Thanks to anyone over at Lenovo/IBM who slaved over my old A31 in attempts to resurrect it, or battled supply issues to get me a new T43 replacement.

And a reminder to everyone with a laptop: keep that warranty going for as long as you value your computer. It’s very good to have.

For anyone wondering, the fingerprint scanner, is somewhat of a toy (it’s not really any more secure than a good password, because it apparently on matches parts of your fingerprint, not the entire fingerprint, for speed purposes)… but makes logging in much less obtrusive. Kinda feels like 007.

And yes, I’ll be back working on the reporter tool a bit during the week now, not to mention mozPod, which I’ve neglected for months.

Mozilla Security

Reporter, the next generation

Now that I’ve basically stabilized the new reporter tool for the branch, I’ve been planning for what will come in the next version. Quite a few neat little enhancements, some small, some larger.

Client Side

  • Screenshots – you will be able to attach a screenshot when sending a report. The option will be disabled by default (likely a button or a checkbox on send) to prevent submitting screenshots of things you shouldn’t for security reasons, you can send when you want.
  • Remember Email Address – I’ve been debating if this is necessary. It would just remember your email address for you so you don’t have to type it in again and again.

Server Side

  • Adjustable Columns – you can choose what columns to show in the results page, making it much more useful to analyze. [Done]
  • Reporter Proxy – this will give the ability for a company to host it’s own reporter server, capture reports within their intranet, and forward the rest to the mozilla reporter server. Perfect for companies who want to improve the Firefox experience on their intranet. [Work In Progress]
  • Screenshots – see above, this is pretty much the same thing.
  • Mark Invalid – some reports are on occasion totally bogus. We don’t need them in the database. We’ll have an option to report bogus reports, and an admin can confirm and get rid of them. This will keep everything as accurate as possible.
  • Bugs for Host – we’ll have the ability to view related bugzilla bugs on a particular host.
  • Reporter Toys – yea, I’ve been tinkering. I won’t say what this exactly is, but it’s a variety of extra code and stuff that could be fun to play with.
  • Templating – on the technical side, were moving to templates so the HTML is separate. Much easier to manage from a programming point of view. [Done]
  • Bug Fixes – during the above templating, a bunch of bug fixes and other small changes. [Done]
  • Stats – some statistics are always fun to have. Basic right now, we may expand as time and ideas become available. [Done]
  • CSS Design Love – reporter’s webtool is rather pathetic visually. I’m the first to admit it. I’d love an improved stylesheet. Something that makes reporter look cleaner, and more professional.


Some of the server stuff already landed. Some is in the works (in particular proxy). I’m not promising any particular feature in any timeframe at this point. Some of the above may be bumped to another milestone, or scratched all together. If you have any ideas, or feel like contributing, feel free. I’d love to get some good CSS, or perhaps some patches for reporter.

That basically serves as the roadmap/status update of where the tool is right now. We’ve got some great feedback, and close to 5000 reports already (and were only at alpha 2 in the release cycle).


Help Wanted: reporter cleanup and bug filing

I could use a few volunteers to do the following:

Help me clean up reporter
Everything needs a cleaning now and then. Check for reports in reporter that just don’t belong. “Microsoft Sucks” isn’t a valid report. Some are merely tests. Find them and send me the reportID’s (you can leave a comment if you wish or send an email).

Help file bugs
We have a fair number of reports already. Start sifting and file bugs in bugzilla (under Evangelism) with good valid bug reports. Be sure to mention in the bug what reports found the bug, so we can have detailed info on the setup’s that involve this bug. Also please make it block Bug 301962 so that we can keep track of bugs based on reporter data.