Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nailing down an OSD project

After a fair bit of procrastination, and finishing other project proposals. The time came around to choose an DPS901/OSD600 project. After briefly going through the list of projects found here. I decided that having a paltry 12 projects to choose from wasn't quite enough.

After speaking to my teacher Dave on IRC I expressed my interest in WebGL, without hesitation David was hitting up his contacts and threw a brand new project to: create a webGL performance test suite. Now that sounds a little daunting. However with the #moznet community and David's guidance, I can't wait soak up these readings and get started.

Here is a list of reading sources thus far:
WebGL Wiki 
Learning WebGL Blog
Mozilla Dev Central WebGL
WebGL Mainpage

I haven't gone through every source in great detail yet. If anyone has more reading suggestions, comment!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chrome experiments: A Bug's Life

Phase 2 of our: Firefox Performance Testing Lab

After narrowing down all the fun Chrome experiments which use the latest open standards including: HTML5, Canvas, SVG and more! Into significant test cases. That is where most of my class mates would experience our first taste of becoming a contributor to the open source community.

As you can see in my lab link students collaborated together and compiled our results in one place. From there we were on our own. However Not at all because D.Humphrey was available every step of the way to show us how a bug is filed or even if a bug a bug, along side all of the open source community at our finger tips.

My first bug available here. I filed a bug concerning the JavaScript engine when running this chrome experiment.
Steps to recreate:

1. Click launch experiment
2. Drag mouse across experiment window to give you something to bounce against
3. Turn up ball drop rate 15x
Interestingly within minutes of posting the bug and sending to Humph on irc he replied telling me the javascript for the experiment was out of date. So I downloaded the experiment and swapped out the JS with this one provided.

The end result? Minefield performed beautifully and all was well in the world. However I'm still watching the bug for updates to see how I can contribute.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

OSD performance

Our latest bit of homework for OSD was for the Firefox javascript engine. Here's what we did:

- Download Minefield(Firefox nightly build)
- Download Chromium(Chrome nightly build)

Got that? Good! Now check out this. These Google experiments are done with functionalities in HTML5.

As a class we divided and conquered all the experiments, taking approximately ten each. That however didn't stop me from wasting far too much time in the other cool experiments. The goal was to identify any problems in Firefox's: speed, responsiveness, and smoothness. Also along the way report any bugs encountered (unfortunately I didn't find any) and finally record our results. Fridays class should show us where were taking this lab.

OSD Lab & Biz

Getting into the mystical world of IRC. A previous semester course OOP344 introduced me to IRC as a medium to meet with our entire group and the teacher for meetings or help. However that was just the tip of the iceberg. D.Humphrey described in brief how useful IRC can be and how we can unlock its potential, much of this was go over a bit more in detail here. More importantly it speaks of the Mozilla community in the very same way I needed to hear about it (it's a recorded lecture). They go over mozilla mailing lists, which after hearing about I promptly joined some. The basic community navigation. The most important thing I think that everyone should listen to again was the handling of Bugzilla. Not only how to use the tool, but how to submit them. Very useful!

The second piece of information was an interesting piece speaking of the potential value of open source for education. I have to agree with Dave in his piece available here. We do want meaningful things to do and open source technology is a great avenue to explore that. The original article is available here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Delayed Intro to OSD600

OSD600 has completely blown away my expectations of the course, and I haven't even started working yet (more on that tonight).

Let me start off by saying, Early last year when I took OOP344 the teacher Fardad explained in baby steps through the course the tip of the open source iceberg. From my limited exposure I could tell this was something interesting. Over the previous year I wondered what does open source mean? how could it possibly work?

Revolution OS is a beautiful documentary of some of the first open source movements. It elaborated on how open source works, the flagship success story of Linux and its creator Linus' theory of "Release early, release often". Open source did something its proprietary parallel models did not, Eric Raymond's paper The Cathedral and the Bazaar touched on this topic. Applying the theory: Given enough eyeballs are problems are shallow. 

Open source development succeeded in the Bazaar model of development which is apparent confusion from the on looker. It worked because the community grew off free software, and the user suddenly became the developer. People got there pride of being part of something big, they got the customization to their own needs and serious faults became small ones under the community. Just like Eric's experiences and Linux's birth.

Last year the NYTimes told a tail of Mozilla, which is now arguable the most successful open source project to date. In brief it told of Mozilla's success, why it worked against IE. Googles relationship with Mozilla, and the release of Chrome. 

In conclusion I highly anticipate being part of the open source community, if not for career, then to simply share my passion for software and finally contribute to the community. Such as downloading the nightly builds and starting on our first tangible piece of work in OSD.