mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Postdoctoral fellow, McGill Linguistics.

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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Happy Halloween from the Firefox Panorama team!

We carved some pumpkins a couple days ago in my department. I carved the Panorama logo above, but also one of the Stata Center.

More Jack-O-Lantern photos, including great ones of Chomsky and Norvin Richards, are up on Flickr.

Spring is for Speaking: JSConf, WordCamp SF, IACL

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

I recently confirmed three different very exciting speaking gigs which I’ll be doing this spring:

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Jetpacking in Boston

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

A couple weeks ago I gave a talk at the Boston Javascript meetup introducing Jetpack and filling people in in the latest developments in the project, including the Reboot. Between 20 to 30 people came to the talk which was at Microsoft Cambridge. Here are the slides from the talk:1

Extend the Browser with Jetpack

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  1. If anyone would like the Keynote deck, just let me know. 

Jetpack Ambassadors in MV

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

A couple weeks ago I went out to Mozilla HQ in Mountain View for a Jetpack Ambassador meetup. Jetpack is a project at Mozilla labs intended to make writing Firefox add-ons easier, and shares some ancestry with the Ubiquity project dear to my heart. The Jetpack Ambassadors are a team of Mozilla community members who will be involved with Jetpack marketing, evangelizing Jetpack and writing about our own experiences working with the exciting new Jetpack architecture.

We spent a good chunk of time with a team from Invisible Elephant who came in to give us some training on making technical presentations, and then dug into the code on Day 2. It was great to have the geniuses at Mozilla Labs like Atul and Myk show us the latest Jetpack code as well as get the latest project direction from Daniel, Aza, and Nick, from which we could see the amount of careful consideration and effort that’s gone into the Jetpack reboot.

The best part of the whole experience, though, has to be the fellowship with the other Jetpack Ambassadors. The Ambassadors came from all over the world, encompassing Europe, Asia, S. America, and of course N. America. Each are involved with some really exciting projects and have each made a name for themselves in their respective communities. I’ve put together a twitter list of all the Jetpack Ambassadors and the core team members and invite you to follow them.

We also had the greatest number of Ubiquity core developers to have ever been in the same place at the same time, which of course had to be documented. :)

(More photos can be seen in my gallery.)

I had a fantastic time in MV and it was a shame I could only be there for such a short time. I feel honored to be a part of this group and am looking forward to speaking on Jetpack soon at an event near you!

WordCamp Boston 2010

Friday, January 29th, 2010

4096077627_c6d3035124_o.jpg

This past weekend I gave a couple talks at the inaugural WordCamp Boston. WordCamps are local, community-organized events for WordPress users and enthusiasts. We had about 400 people at the Microsoft Cambridge campus.

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Mashing up the browser in Maine

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Last week I was invited to give a talk at the TechMaine annual conference in Portland, Maine.

Being a longer time slot than I previously have used to talk about Ubiquity, I decided to dedicate a good portion of the talk to Jetpack. Being outside of Mozilla for the past few months, this gave me an opportunity to get reacquainted with the Jetpack APIs. I myself was impressed by how easy it was to develop a quick Jetpack. I ended up preparing two to live-code during the talk: one called Helvetica which, with one click, replaces all fonts on the current page with Helvetica; and You Are Here which uses an open API from IPinfoDB to display the physical location of the domain you are currently visiting in the status bar. Both are now on the Jetpack Gallery.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a snowstorm leading up to the event, but there was still a nice turnout and I got to meet some fantastic people there. Ken Shoemake of [[slerp]] and [[quaternion]] fame came up to me after my talk and said “the Ubiquity parser reminded me of the dancing bear… it’s less surprising that it works well as that it works at all.” :) I also enjoyed the other great presentations in the technology track, covering the virtues of REST and basic iPhone development.

Mashup the Browser with Ubiquity and Jetpack

Extending WordPress talk at the Boston WordPress Meetup

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Boston WordPress Meetup. The Boston WordPress Meetup meets monthly at the Microsoft Cambridge Research Center which is a fantastic venue right on the Charles river. Last night we got to be up on the 10th floor which has a great view of Boston right over the river. There was pretty good turnout, with about thirty or fourty people there.

My talk was a general introduction to WordPress plugin development, beginning with the concepts of actions and filters, and concluding with a description of HookPress, my new plugin which enables webhooks in WordPress. Here are the slides:

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Living in the Stata Center

Monday, September 21st, 2009

We’re now three weeks into the semester at MIT where I just started a PhD program in linguistics. The Linguistics and Philosophy department is housed in The Ray and Maria [[Stata Center]], also known as building 32. It’s a [[Frank Gehry]] building and thus crazy looking.1

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  1. It also apparently has some structural problems; most notably leaks

91 Hours in Japan

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I just spent 91 hours in Japan. This is what it looked like.

Mozilla By The Numbers

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

About six months ago I started working for Mozilla Labs full-time, focusing on Ubiquity, the multilingual natural language interface for the browser. This week marked my last week on contract as I go back to grad school next week. While the work will go on and I hope to continue to stay involved as time allows, here’s a quick bird’s eye view of my activities in my Mozilla tenure:


Time working for Mozilla: 6.5 months

Mozilla-related blog posts written: 69

Academic papers written on Ubiquity: 1

Ubiquity presentations given: 5

Screencasts made: 8

Most popular video on Vimeo: Ubiquity 0.5 日本語紹介ビデオ, the Japanese Ubiquity 0.5 introduction video: 2252 views

Languages Ubiquity commands and parser now support: 6

Commits to the Ubiquity repository: 492

Other web projects started during this period: 2+ (Ten Grand Is Buried There, HookPress)

TechCrunch references: 2 (1, 2)

Countries worked in: 2

Mythical Kiwis worked with: 1

References to bugs I introduced as “glitcho”s: 1

Extremely disturbing homages to me and Django: 1

Friends made; experience gained; lessons on Open-ness learned; personal growth: priceless enumerable


Thanks to all who made this experience amazing, beginning with Aza, Jono, Atul, Blair and the rest of the Labs team; intern extraordinaire Brandon; the always thoughtful and friendly Mozilla Japan team; and of course the fantastic Ubiquity community! Please visit me in Boston—I should be around for a while. ;)

Ubiquity presentation at Tokyo 2.0

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

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This past Monday I presented at Tokyo 2.0, Japan’s largest bilingual web/tech community. I presented as part of a session on The Web and Language, which I also helped organize. Other presenters included Junji Tomita from goo Labs, Shinjyou Sunao of Knowledge Creation, developers of the Voice Delivery System API, and Chris Salzberg of Global Voices Online on community translation.

I just put together a video of my Ubiquity presentation, mixing the audio recorded live at the presentation together with a screencast of my slides for better visibility. The presentation is 10 minutes long and is bilingual, English and Japanese.


Ubiquity: Command the Web with Language 言葉で操作する Web from mitcho on Vimeo.

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Lecture at ITSP - 先端ITスペシャリスト育成プログラムにて講義

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Yesterday I was invited to give a lecture for students the [[MEXT]] IT Specialist Program. ITSP is a partnership between Keio, Waseda, and Chuo Universities and NTT, IBM, and Mozilla to bring advanced IT training and opportunities to their Master’s students. It was a longish time slot so I decided to split it up into two different talks: one on open source and open processes (similar to one of my sessions at the recent BarCamp Tokyo) and one on the future of interfaces, internationalization and globalization, and Ubiquity. Here are the slides for posterity. (Note: the second set of slides is mostly in Japanese.)

昨日は文部科学省の先端ITスペシャリスト育成プログラムの学生の為に講義をしました。ちょっと長めの時間だったので、二つのトークに分けてみました。第一部は「オープン」と言うアイデア、特にオープンなデザイン過程の利点について。第二部は未来のインターフェースと国際化とUbiquityの紹介でした。スライドをここにslideshareにあげておきました。

Design processes in the open-source era オープンソース時代のデザインプロセス

Ubiquity: Interfaces and Internationalization インターフェースと国際化

Report from Mozilla Party JP 10!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

On Saturday I went to Mozilla Party 10, a community event organized by Mozilla-gumi (もじら組). Mozilla-gumi has been an active community in Japan for the past 10 years, making it one of the oldest Mozilla communities around. Despite the cloudy weather in Shinjuku and the ever-present swine flu scare, we had over 100 people attending.1

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  1. All photos in this post courtesy of makoto

Notes from BarCamp Tokyo 2009

Monday, May 18th, 2009

This past Saturday was Tokyo BarCamp 2009 at Sun’s Yoga offices. I of course gave a presentation on Ubiquity and our recent localization efforts, including Parser 2. As you can see, I signed up quickly:

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CC-BY-NC iMorpheus

Here are the slides I used in that session. There are two “demo” sections in the slides… the first was a simple demo of Ubiquity 0.1.x showing off the translate, map, and edit-page commands. The second demo was of Ubiquity Parser 2 and showing off how little code it takes to add your language to Ubiquity with Parser 2.

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Attachment Ambiguity—or—when is the gyudon cheap?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

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Every day on the way to work I walk by a fine establishment known as [[Yoshinoya]] (吉野家), Japan’s largest gyudon (牛丼) chain restaurant. For those of you whose lives have yet to be graced by [[gyudon]], it’s a bowl of rice topped with beef and onions stewed in a sweet-savory soy-based sauce. Loving gyudon and being a cheapskate, I naturally noticed the recent 50 yen off gyudon promotion at Yoshinoya. The above photo is a photo of part of that sign.

Part of this sign, though, made me think about our new Ubiquity parser. In particular, it was the attachment ambiguity in the end date of the promotion. The text in the photo above literally is “April 15th (Wed.) 8PM until”. (Note that Japanese is a strongly head-final language, and that the “until” is a postposition.) There are two possible readings for this expression, as illustrated by the two [[principle of compositionality|composition]] trees below.

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