mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Postdoctoral fellow, McGill Linguistics.


Posts Tagged ‘Mozilla’

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!

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. ;)

日本語サポートを含む Ubiquity 0.5 リリース

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Mozilla Japan ブログUbiquity を紹介する投稿を上げたので、ここでもクロスポストします。 Here’s a cross-post of a Ubiquity 0.5 announcement (in particular regarding the new Japanese support) I wrote for the Mozilla Japan blog.

Mozilla Labs の実験的プロジェクトのひとつ、 Ubiquity の最新版、バージョン 0.5 を昨日リリースしました。 (Mozilla Labs 正式発表 [英文])

Ubiquity はウェブをより有益に、より使いやすくするために自然言語で Firefox を操作するインターフェースを提供します。ウェブ上のオープン API と機能が増えて行く一方でどのようなインターフェースが必要であるのか。その答えを追求した結果、テキスト入力の正確さとスピードと自然言語の心地よさを合わせたインターフェースができあがりました。例えば「麹町を地図で表示」、「これを (誰々) へメール」などを自分の言葉で入力してブラウザを操作することができます。新しいコマンド (動詞) も簡単に JavaScript で書けるので、拡張性も非常に高いプラットフォームです。

ユーザにとって「自然な構文」 (“natural syntax” [英文]) という目標の下、数ヶ月の研究の結果、Ubiquity 0.5 では複数の言語の異なる構文に対応できるパーサを実装しました。Ubiquity 内蔵のコマンドもローカライズ可能になり、0.5 ではすべての内蔵コマンドの日本語、デンマーク語とポルトガル語版が搭載されています。

リリース直前に Ubiquity の日本語紹介ビデオを作成しましたので、どうぞご覧ください。日本語モードでの使用方法も説明されています。

Ubiquity 0.5 日本語紹介ビデオ from mitcho on Vimeo.

日本語サポートが入った Ubiquity 0.5 を是非ご使用ください。このインターフェースをより多くのユーザが「自然に」使えるよう、これからも開発を続けていきたいと思います。

Light of Firefox (tomoshibi 灯) from Mozilla Japan

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Here at Mozilla Japan Firefox 3.5 Headquarters,1 we just launched the new and improved Light of Firefox (in Japanese, tomoshibi (灯)) for Firefox 3.5. The Light of Firefox is a real-time, interactive website which shows sparks on a map of Japan for every manual download of the new Firefox from


The name tomoshibi means “torch” in Japanese. As a new Firefox brings new technologies and possibilities to all corners of the web, so too will the tomoshibi light up the night in Japan!

The site was designed and coded by Daisuke Akatsuka of the Keio Kakehi Lab (xlab), the same fine folks who brought you interFORest.

  1. thecountdown-thumb.jpg 

The (Shiretoko) Revolution Begins Now

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

As many of you know, the upcoming Firefox 3.5 was code-named Shiretoko after the [[Shiretoko National Park]] on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. The Shiretoko Foundation and Mozilla Japan just launched a very cool open-web-powered promotional website, interFORest, together with a very powerful educational site, I just went to and registered for my own virtual tree to be planted on the virtual Shiretoko Park. This tree banner will keep track of traffic through my site to the interFORest site and will grow this tree accordingly over time. You can then go to and see all the trees growing on the park. With your help, we can grow it into a forest!

If you are reading this through a feed reader or planet, click on the permalink to view the banner embedded below:

Place one of these personalized canvas-powered virtual tree banners on your site to spread the word on Firefox 3.5, the Shiretoko Park and Foundation, and the power of open communities. All the cool kids are doing it. ^^

Ten Grand Is Buried There

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

By now many of you have probably seen this new Microsoft Australia campaign, “Ten Grand Is Buried,”1 which calls Firefox “old” and Safari “boring”:


I’m not sure what this is saying about me, but my immediate reaction was to go check whether was available. To my surprise, Microsoft had yet to snatch it up! A few hours later, here’s the result:


Go ahead, visit the site and give it a try!

Note: Not being a marketing guy, I just threw some text together to introduce Firefox. If someone has some better copy for this display, please let me know.

  1. As of this writing, this domain actually has yet to serve anything. 

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.)


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


  1. All photos in this post courtesy of makoto

Foxkeh Strikes Again!

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I just wanted to point out that our beloved Foxkeh is featured1 on! He can be found on the Twitter business profile page in the first photo in the gallery:


  1. Okay, maybe “featured” is a strong word… 

How natural should a natural interface be?

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I’m very happy to announce that, starting today, I will be working full-time on Ubiquity, a Mozilla Labs experiment to connect the web with language. I’ll be heading up research on different linguistic issues of import to a linguistic user interface and blogging about these topics here. If you’re interested, please subscribe to my blog’s RSS feed or the RSS feed for only Ubiquity-related items. Commenting is encouraged! ^^

Every day, more users are trying out Ubiquity, the Mozilla Labs experiment that lets users accomplish common Internet tasks faster through a natural language interface. As we live more and more of our lives on the web, there is a huge appeal to—and need for—a faster way to access and mashup our information.

But what exactly do we mean by a “natural language interface”? Is it just another programming language with lots of English keywords? Should the final goal be a computer that understands everything we tell it?

Ubiquity is not HAL

As we think about the future directions and possibilities of Ubiquity, we need to go back to our roots and understand the project’s motivations. With that in mind, here are some initial thoughts on the advantages of a natural language interface. The ultimate goal here is to refine the notion of natural language interface and to come up with a set of principles that we can follow in pushing Ubiquity further, into other languages and beyond.