Twiddling my email, calendar, irc, and phone notification settings

Calendar and email notifications may sound very boring but they has engrossed me for at least an hour.

For the first time in life I have a work laptop and a personal laptop. For the last 10+ years I’ve come into a job with an existing laptop which I use seamlessly for work and personal stuff. So far, I like having less “personal” things on my work laptop. It is especially nice not to have the distraction of personal email and non-work related mailing lists. It also feels amazingly luxurious to set aside the work laptop at the end of the day.

I have Zimbra for work email, but prefer to read my email in Thunderbird on my work laptop. Zimbra calendar has my work meetings and Google Calendar has the general schedule for my life. This morning I realized Zimbra was nagging me about missing a meeting. I need to know beforehand in some way that isn’t inside a browser tab!

Instead, I’d like my phone to make a special alert noise for meetings 10 minutes beforehand so I know to open up Skype or Vidyo (what Mozilla generally uses for meetings).

BEEP cover

The last bit of information in this scenario: I didn’t want to install some special Zimbra app on my phone.

Here’s what I did:

1. Set up Zimbra to SMS me at (my 10-digit phone number@tmomail.net) before meetings.

In Zimbra, go to Settings, calendar, set up phone number for notifications.
In each meeting there is a checkbox for email notification. This works for recurring meetings as well.

2. Set up my phone so that gmail notifications only make a noise for priority inbox mail. (I realized that my phone makes a noise every time it syncs email. I normally ignore that noise. )

Open Gmail on the phone, Menu>More>Settings>click the email account>Labels to Notify>Inbox ***>Ringtones (set to silent)

*** Tweak the settings for the Priority Inbox too.

4. Go to gmail.com and set up whatever should go into “priority inbox” i.e. filtered to “important”

google calendar already has its own notifications on android phone if you have its app installed. If not you can set up a forwarding address and make the calendar email to SMS you.

5. make sure incoming SMS messages have a different noise than priority emails
Go to messages, menu, then settings, Select ringtone.

It took a little thought to figure out what to use to get the simple result I wanted. And while most of it happens in web services and phone settings, some of it was in my training myself in a different behavior (paying attention to a particular noise on my phone.)

A final note: Long ago I set up voicemail from my phone to Google Voice. I hate listening to voicemail. It takes a long time. Text is so much nicer, and it helps that I read very quickly. All voicemail interfaces suck. The last time I used one, it had a default menu message that took about 15 years to go through that played after every single voicemail. This resulted in my *never* listening to my messages. (Fortunately I have not had a work phone for years; just email.)

People sometimes leave long messages, but the gist of them is just “call me back”. Google Voice is lovely for this as it sends me an email transcript of the voicemail. The transcripts are often hilarious garbled but it’s enough to get the idea of who’s calling, what their number is, and what they want. If I want to hear them, I can press “play”. Their messages are also nicely archived for me in Gmail. Hurrah!

In which I explain Yggdrazilla, the World-Tree, and see some fireboats

Yesterday I headed into the Mozilla San Francisco office with my son Milo in tow. It was sunny and beautiful! We had lunch at the High Dive, a little diner right on the waterfront. He tried out my TV-B-Gone delux and we laughed very hard at the feeling of being super-spies with our spy gadget. Or, he might have just been laughing at me. It’s hard to tell!

On the walk back from the diner I pointed out the old SFFD building and that there was a fireboat on the other side of it. We went round to watch the boat pull out of its berth, apparently giving some non-firemen a tour in the sparkly winter sunshine. On its side it was labeled Guardian, boat #2. There was a sign in front of the building explaining the history of San Francisco fireboats. We both avidly read this sort of thing. The more famous of SF’s fireboats is the Phoenix from 1955, which saved the Marina district after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. “I guess it’s still useful, even though it’s old-fashioned” he commented. The fireboat is also extremely cute; stubby and with a little striped tower, like a tugboat.

guardian fireboat

At the office I picked up a B2G test drivers phone so I can help test FirefoxOS. Sights of the office for my son were: my cube (unexciting), the shelves of free snack food (from which, abstemiously, he snagged a banana and two starburst candies), and the roof with its view of the Bay Bridge. The night before, I had read him the first few chapters of Flatland. He had picked it up to read on the bus and while I worked, since it’s lighter to carry than the Draconomicon. He kept interrupting my concentration on email and Bugzilla to read me bits from Flatland.

I figured I would return the favor. “So, would you like to know what I am actually working on?” Yes he would. Whatever I do for my job On The Computer is something of a mystery. Even to me . . .

We read the principles in the Mozilla Manifesto. (“Nice, Mom. That sounds like you. But, no offense, but, well, I’m already reading a book where people explain boring things about politics.”) Okay, moving on. I explained that there is a non-profit Mozilla Foundation as well as Mozilla Corporation, then that there is a greater Mozilla community (Mozillians!), who all work on making various tools better: Firefox in various flavors, which he is familiar with, but also Thunderbird, Bugzilla, and other stuff.

He got that Bugzilla is a product anyone can download, install, and use to track problems, but that Mozilla has its own implementation of Bugzilla, which we call BMO (for bugzilla.mozilla.org). Someone puts a bug into BMO; then a lot of people might look at it and do something with or to it.

My job as the newly-fledged Bugmaster is to help manage the huge volume of bugs in BMO. I pointed out that in a search for bugs filed in the last 24 hours the ID numbers for the bugs are up to 82600. So 800,000 bugs have been reported since Mozilla has been around, over 10 years ago.

(ETA: You need to have a bugzilla.mozilla.org login in order to use the above link. Hmmm.)

I’m taking a look at triaging new bugs, or in this case, adding information to bugs with UNCONFIRMED status and moving them to some new status. Generally, a bug that is UNCONFIRMED has not been triaged. My big question right now is, though there is no natural “end” to triaging a bug, how can we demarcate untriaged and partly triaged, bugs from ones that are… let’s say… good enough for now for a developer to look at? I could encourage people who do something with a bug to move it out of UNCONFIRMED. I could invent a system of whiteboard tags or flags to mark up bugs for the bugmastering throngs who live in #bugmasters.

Anyway, I didn’t go into that for Milo. I gave a very quick, hand-wavy explanation of how FOSS projects tend to have a “trunk” which is basically the code that’s been tested and released, trying to give an impression for him that a lot of people touch that code as it gets committed to branches, tested, and merged in to the trunk, watched over by Sheriffs. I showed him the tinderbox push log page which displays commits and a battery of automated tests that they pass or fail. Milo (who is not into programming at all) commented that there is Mozilla, and Bugzilla, and everythingzilla, so there should be Yggdrazilla, like the world-tree from Norse myth, to describe this cool giant tree of code.

I love the name Yggdrazilla! Though I’m not sure what exactly it would describe!

This morning as I fired up to work from home, Milo came in to show me an amazing coincidence! One of his giant phone book sized DC comics compilations from Christmas has a comic book about Center City and its new fireboat, the Phoenix!

phoenix-fireboat.jpg

We stopped on the way home at a TMobile store to get a SIM card for the B2G test phone, and then excitedly fought over it to play Little Alchemy on the bus and after dinner. I’m going to set aside time to poke at FirefoxOS (aka B2G or Boot2Gecko) every day but am not sure I’m going to use it for my primary phone. I informally reported one UI issue with it, and today would like to double check on that and will probably put it into Bugzilla. It immediately wanted to import all my contacts from Facebook, and all the contact info for my Facebook friends. Wow. Scary but interesting. FirefoxOS is going to released soon and will make smart phones a lot cheaper and therefore more accessible for people. As soon as I can buy one for Milo, I will — it will be his first smart phone. It’s really tempting to try to write an app for it.

milo-liz-roof-mozilla.jpg

First day at Mozilla!

I spent yesterday in the San Francisco Mozilla office, meeting people, setting up my laptop, and getting a general orientation. It’s in the Hills Brothers Coffee building across the plaza from Google, so I went past a hilarious statue (too late from the bus to study it in any detail) into a marble-floored entry hall and into one of those dark woodpaneled elevators with a mirror that are successfully posh, but need cheering up or art on the wall or something to look at other than the reflection of elevator-awkwardness. In elevators I have the choice of lining up my wheelchair or scooter foolishly backwards to back in, then emerge with dignity; barrelling in over-fast to jump the gap and scaring anyone already in the elevator, then waiting facing the “wrong” way; or, jumping the gap forwards and then executing a clumsy or neat 7 or 5 or 3 point turn which definitely scares everyone else’s feet. Sometimes I forget to slow the scooter speed and crash into the elevator wall.

Enough about that! The 7th floor is more cheerful, light, full of colored couches and enormous refrigerators and baskets of candy and snacks enough to feed armies of squirrels. An extremely nice person named Peter gave me a laptop and pointed me at a videoconference set up on a tablet in a sort of tablet holster with headphones so that I could be in the HR orientation, which was fairly painless and lasted about an hour. I am one of the first batch of new hires to go through their new “onboarding” system, which has been bombarding me for a week with exhortations to Join the Glorious Mozillian Cause, Comrade, join every mailing list/newsgroup/irc channel in the world, and fill out my forms. It seems a good system. “Firehose” is too weak of a term.

mozilla lizard logo

I kept notes on all the tiny errors in the process, throughout last week, to report them in batches. I felt that I was already working there, without being paid, which, well, why not when they are so awesome and it is free/open source and a huge worldwide volunteer community! Onwards!! I spent some time last week, and then, much more fiercely yesterday, coming up with ways to organize these huge tributaries of information and systems for myself to skim off the bits necessary to move something forward, respond or act. I feel like a little space station way out somewhere, beginning to turn on its ansible and light up, coming online in a giant network of ships and stars.

Right, where was I. I was introduced as a new hire at an amazingly competent video conferenced short Mozilla weekly meeting. I had already looked at past meetings while studying up on what was going on at the company, to interview. Then was on irc, on the #qa and #ateam channel, then meeting the Bugzilla team who are in town for the week and who were very amiable. I wonder if they would like to come to Noisebridge? It is amusing to work at a grownup job where people are introduced to you with names like “glob” and “potch” and it is normal for me to be named “lizzard” since it has been my irc name for forever. I listened to the Bugzilla folks for a while. They super nicely offered to take me with them tomorrow on a datacenter tour, where I will arrive as a sort of wheely cyborg surprise to whoever is squiring us around. Then had lunch (free, catered, very nice lunch on Mondays) with Lukas Blakk, ran into Tantek, met Boris and Dave and the guy with the purple mohawk, and Heather who showed me around the building. My cube is in a somewhat depressing cube farm on the 3rd floor, but everyone was super nice and I decided to work in the community room on the 7th floor where there is a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge and the water. There are couches on the roof, and tables to work at. Lukas and I hung out (we know each other from geekfeminism.org already) and I got to see a lot of great and promising stuff built on top of Bugzilla’s API, just the sort of thing I was hoping to (someday) build to visualize Mozilla’s bug data.

This is more about first impressions and my enjoyment of them than an organization of facts and information and my systems to keep them neat. Those systems, right now, live in my private TiddlyWiki instance, a new lizzardZilla wiki separate for work where I brain dump, then organize everything. I will try to convey actual information later today! But, in short, I am the Bugmaster, and on “The Ateam” and cannot wait to order business cards that say “Bugmaster” on them. Maybe with this picture on the back, shopped with some extra -zillatude to it:

All shall triage bugs with me and despair make awesomeness possible!