Ascend Project

Mentorship and barrier-removing accelerator program designed to explicitly invite, include, and support adult learners in making a first technical contribution to Open Source software.

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Adam's Ascent

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    Last day at Mozilla's Ascend Project

    17 Oct 2014 » A summary of what I did during the Ascend Project
    • Installed all of the Firefox channels (Aurora, Nightly, etc)
    • Learned how to use Git and GitHub
    • Set up my dev enviornment
    • Set up my blog of sorts on the Ascend Project website
    • Built Firefox in a VM
    • Learned how to make build patches
    • Fixed three bugs ** Got really used to making git branches ** Did lots of pull requests ** Developed the start of a great working relationship with my mentor Will Kahn-Green ** Met Mike Cooper
    • Set up a local Wordpress blog
    • Crashed things
    • Applied for OPW
    • Gave presentations

    First Bug Fixed - Code Landed

    09 Oct 2014 »

    One of the major activities that participants of the Ascend Project are doing is working on contributing to open source via working on bugs that were found on Mozilla’s bugzilla site. We all started choosing the bug(s) we wanted to work on a few weeks ago after having had Bugzilla explained to us in terms of how to navigate the site and how to read the conventions often used when bugs get listed.

    I initially had a bit of trouble deciding on what to work on but ended up settling on bug 1025925 that was essentially about making the conventions used in the code base of Fjord consistent. Fjord is software that runs Mozilla Input which collects actionable feedback regarding Mozilla’s different products across all of the platforms that they run on. This feedback is used by multiple teams within Mozilla and is instrumental in figuring out what issues users are facing when using Mozilla’s software.

    While what I was tasked with doing in terms of fixing the bug was pretty straight forward (changing file names and making sure that the rest of the code base correctly pointed to those files) I chose it and enjoyed fixing it for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was that all of the files were written in Python which is a language that I’m interested in learning. Fixing this bug allowed me a number of chances to look at well written python code. One of the other reasons I chose it was because it was listed as a “good first bug” and had a mentor assigned to it.

    I finished fixing the but on Friday October, 3rd and the code landed later that day. It was a really enjoyable process and I’m really that I had a lot of help, especially from Will Kahn-Greene and Mike Cooper. It was also all made a lot easier by being able to do this while in the Ascend Project as I was able to be in Mozilla’s Portland office and have a number of people within not quite arm’s reach to turn to if I had a question that I couldn’t quite figure out on my own.

    Patching bugs?

    29 Sep 2014 »

    A major part of the Ascend Project is getting to the point where you can make contributions to open source projects. As part of that we were asked to come up with a list of bugs that we might want to work on and do a blog post about them. I was at an appointment during part of that so while I didn’t come up with a list I did find one bug that I excited about working and I will talk about it here.

    The bug that I want to work on is Bug 1025925 - refactoring some of the code in Fjord to make sure that naming conventions are consistant. This requires changing the names of individual files as well as delving into the code and making sure that the paths are correct. The bug sounds pretty straight forward (Which is probably why it’s marked “good first bug”), but at the same time it’s requires being detail oriented which is part of what drew me to this bug. Additionally it looks like much of the code is written in Python which is a language that I have almost no background but one that I am very eager to learn for various reasons.

    I’ve read through much of the Fjord documentation and am very excited to set up my dev enviornment start working on the bug!

    Tutorial: How to install the Crash Me Firefox extension

    19 Sep 2014 »

    In this blog post I will be showing how to download the Crash Me Firefox extension which is useful when you are running a test where you are required to crash the browser on command. The steps involve going to the website that the extension is hosted on, downloading the extension, and allowing Firefox to install it.

    First you will want to go to the website that hosts the Crash Me extension which can be found here. Click the link that says, “Download the latest version” and chose the option to save file in a directory of your choice.

    Crash Me website screenshot

    Next you will want to find the file that you have downloaded, crashme.xpi, and drag it to an open window of Firefox.

    Crash Me Dragging

    A window will pop up asking you if you want to install the plug in and the “install” button will have a coundown ticker which will eventually coundown to zero and allow you to click it. Once the button counts down click “install” and choose to restart your browser when it prompts you to do so.

    Crash Me

    Once your browser restarts you will be able to go to Tools -> Add-ons and that will bring up the extentions add-ons tab. Click “Extentions” if it isn’t already selected and click the “preferences” button that’s in the “Crash Me Now” section.


    Press “Crash me!” and you will have crashed your browser on command.

    Addons Manager and MoPad
    Now you can get your mozilla Crash Me Badge here!

    Week Two of Ascend Project Portland

    19 Sep 2014 »

    The second week of the Ascend has come to an end and we did quite a varried amount of stuff. We moved from the more introspective exercies from week one on to doing more concrete things, naimly testing - lots of testing. We learned about the Bugzilla, One and Done, Mozmill, and automating testing. We were also shown how to install, run, and create profiles for all four channels of Firefox (Nightly, Aurora, Beta, and the Stable version of Firefox).

    We did lots of poking around in One and Done running through fairly short manual tests. We also were tasked with finding bugs while we were doing so and I happened upon a bug in a version of nighly. I was really excited because not only was I able to reproduce it but I was able to get two other people to do so as well.

    After learning about one and done we learned about Mozmill and how to use it to do automated testing. We each ran an example test and you can see the results of my test here.

    First Week - Finished!

    12 Sep 2014 »

    It’s the end of the week and I’m actually really proud of the fact that I was able to get through it having gone from never had a 9 to 5 job to being in class in the Ascend Project from 9 to 5. We’ve gone from doing primarily “Who are we as learners, how do we want the space to look like, how do we treat eachother?” to “Navigate your way around the command line, customize the bash, here’s how to get out of Vim.”

    Today we did a lot of stuff involving termnal in the morning. This afternoon we talked about web literacy topics such as privacy, security, searching, and open licensing. We also played around with Webmaker - my results of that are here: .

    First day at Mozilla's Ascend Project

    11 Sep 2014 »

    The first day of the Ascend project was on September 8th, 2014. On the first day we went over ground for the space terms of working together as a group (how are we going to treat one another and what not) as well as the space at large (cleaning up after oneself, which spaces are for Mozilla staff as opposed to participants of the Ascend Project, etc). We also completed a skill finder assessment and did group activities around our results.

    In short, when didn’t do any code related things on the first day (though we did unbox our MacBook Airs), rather we worked on how to make sure our shared working environment is conducive for learning and working together.