Open Thinkering


Tag: Firefox OS

Weeknote 32/2013

This week I’ve been:
  • Taking holiday on Monday and Friday. We spent the weekend at a family party and at Legoland (which was awesome), driving back on Monday. I took Friday off as I had a migraine on Wednesday and a day full of calls on Thursday.
  • Talking with UNESCO about a range of ways they can work with Mozilla, including Firefox OS, Webmaker, Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard. Exciting times!
  • Hosting the weekly Open Badges community call. While I had a migraine. I could hardly see the screen because of the aura I get!
  • Persuading Decoded to align their learning activities with the Web Literacy Standard – and be judges for part of an upcoming contest we’re planning to align with the standard.
  • Planning an eAssessment Scotland session with Steve Sidaway on Open Badges.
  • Sorting out my move to the Mozilla Mentor team with Erin Knight and Chris Lawrence I’ll explain what’s happening in a separate post soon.
  • Sending my Mozilla-provided Nexus 7 to Jade Forester as I use my iPad Mini all the time now.
  • Getting new colleagues Meg Cole-Karagoy and An-Me Chung up-to-date with the state of Open Badges in the UK/Europe.
  • Talking to Telefonica about how they can use Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard.
  • Planning an updated version of the School of Webcraft with P2PU.
  • Liaising with OCR and Computing At School about next week’s meeting on Open Badges for professional development. I’m looking forward to catching some of MozPub afterwards, too.
Next week I’m planning to work from the Ignite100 co-working space in Newcastle on Monday, spend Wednesday in London for the OCR/CAS meeting, and then it’s Maker Party Newcastle next Saturday!

A quick look back at my first year at Mozilla

This time last year I joined the Mozilla Foundation‘s Learning team. I’d already spent a year as part of the Open Badges community so, in a way, it feels like I’ve been working for Mozilla for twice as long as I actually have been! The Learning team has been reorganised (twice!) so I’m now on the Badges Team v2.0. Things certainly don’t move slowly in the tech world.

Dog in car in space

Initially, I planned for this post to include an epic infographic showing all of the places I’ve been, the people I’ve talked to, and so on. But that task would take a whole day of my time – and that’s time I haven’t got! Working at Mozilla is exciting, but busy. Suffice to say that I’ve attended 53 events in the 52 weeks I’ve been at Mozilla and I’ve usually been speaking at or running workshops at them. When you factor in Christmas shutdown at PTO (a.k.a. holiday) then that’s pretty impressive/scary.

I’ve been many places this past year evangelising Mozilla’s mission and, in particular, the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). I’ve been to Canada (twice), several places in the US, the Netherlands (twice), Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, all over the UK… the list goes on. That sounds great but, as any business traveller will tell you, you don’t usually get to do the touristy things; most of what you see is the inside of airports, hotels, planes, trains and automobiles. Having said that, it beats sitting at the same desk day-in, day-out. 😉


I’m often asked what it’s like to work for Mozilla. As people ask that question their eyes often light up as if it’s a magic wonderland. It’s not unicorns and rainbows all the time and I certainly recognise the ‘inability to switch off’ problem that Rob Hawkes mentioned in his post upon leaving Mozilla. In that post he talked about stress and burnout as well. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I experienced stress, burnout and working crazy hours as a teacher and senior leader while still in my 20’s. That means both I and my family are well-equipped to spot and deal with the tell-tale signs of stress. I know when to rest and how to look after myself these days.

But working at Mozilla is, if not a magic wonderland, certainly different and pretty awesome. I’ve never experienced such freedom and devolved responsibility as I do here. Nor have I ever worked with people who are so talented, motivated and great at communicating using technology. It’s also wonderful knowing that you’re playing a part in making a difference on a global scale. Especially with the work that I’m involved in around Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard I feel like this is stuff that could significantly improve the educational and career opportunities of the next generation. Given that’s my children’s generation, it makes me proud to work for a global non-profit where doing good is part of our code.

Hula-hooping bear

By this time next July I’m aiming for Open Badges will be a ‘household name’ in both North American and Europe, for us to be iterating on v1.0 of the Web Literacy Standard, and for Firefox OS (launched today!) to have gained significant market share for the next billion Web users.

Here’s to another year!

I’ve got a Firefox OS phone

Note: I’m travelling at the moment and wanted to get this posted before I get home. Please excuse the use of someone else’s photos of the phone!

A few weeks ago I was told that, as a Mozilla employee, I could get a free Firefox OS phone. There were two caveats: it’s a developer preview, so it’s rough around the edges; and I’d have to ‘dogfood’ it – using it as my ‘daily driver’ and providing feedback to developers. I considered it for a while, flirted with the idea of an Android device, and then took the plunge last week. Since last Wednesday I’ve been using the Geeksphone Keon as my main phone.

Firefox OS box

Firefox OS is aimed primarily at the next billion web users, people who will experience the web for the first time through a mobile device. Instead of closed, proprietary platforms (or pseudo-open ones) the idea is that the entire ‘stack’ is open and easy to develop for. If you know HTML, CSS and JavaScript then you can create an app for a Firefox OS device. As someone who felt extremely empowered as a 16 year-old creating his first website, that’s something that certainly resonates with me.

Because of the aims of the Firefox OS ecosystem, the developer preview reference device (the Keon) is a pretty low-spec phone for 2013. The idea being, of course, that if an app runs smoothly on the reference device then it will run well on other devices. Although there’s some occasional lag, it’s a pretty slick experience – which makes me wonder what those quad-core beasts are doing with that extra processing power?

It would be disingenuous of me to pretend that the Keon does everything an iPhone or Android device does. Of course it doesn’t. I miss posting to Path, running with Nike+ and adding notes to Evernote. But to dismiss it based on current conceptions of what a mobile device should be would, I think, miss the point. It’s the first phone I’ve ever had that allows me to tick a ‘Do Not Track’ option, for example. 😉

This post is to ensure that you know someone who you can ask questions about Firefox OS. I’ll keep you updated as to my progress!

Images CC BY-NC-SA flod