Are you a night owl?

I was not a participant in either of these two medical studies.

Caffeine Disrupts Sleep for Morning People, but Not Night Owls
“…for the early risers, the more caffeine in their bodies, the more time they spent awake during the night after initially falling asleep. This was not seen in the night owls.”

‘Morning people’ and ‘night owls’ show different brain function
“…In morning people their cortical excitability actually decreased throughout the day. It was highest in the morning and lowest in the evening,… It was the opposite for evening people; their brain activity was highest at 9 p.m.”

Those of you who know me, all know that I am a night owl who drinks a lot of coffee, and routinely finishes a pot of coffee before going to sleep. I used to think it was only me. However, after reading these medical studies, I wonder how many others out there are also night owls with a high tolerance for caffeine?

We are all “remoties” (Apr2012 edition)

[UPDATE: The newest version of this presentation is here. joduinn 12feb2014, 09nov2014]

At the Mozilla Summit in sept2011, we ran a session on working remotely at Mozilla.

I was surprised/stunned/honored by needing to run this session *twice* because of popular demand, the sheer volume of interaction in each session and the ongoing interest since the summit.

Writing these slides, I realize how much I care about this topic… and how many careful subtle habits we’ve developed within RelEng over the last ~5 years.

During the summit, and again last week in Toronto, I had a chance to meet with Homa Bahrami (Senior Lecturer, Haas Management of Organizations Group, Haas School of Business, Berkeley). Apart from being a great person to talk with, she has lots of organizational and behavioral science background to help explain why the things that we felt were helping, were in fact, something she would expect to help!

PDF of slides
(click image for PDF of slides; keynote available on request, but its large!)

As I said at the start of each session, at first it felt odd for a Release Engineer to be talking about work habits of distributed groups… until you think about how physically distributed Mozilla’s Release Engineering group is. I note, for the record, that *none* of RelEng are “in headquarters”. While there are occasional miscommunications, RelEng is fairly well plugged into whats going on… after all, we *need* to be in order to do our job of shipping software quickly, reliably and accurately.

To me, this feels like it actually is about working together in clearly understood ways. The suggestions here have helped “remote” RelEng people in clear and obvious ways, but they *also* help “local” RelEng people work together better.

Please let me know what you think. And of course, if you have ideas or suggestions that I missed, I’d love to hear them.

(Apologies to those who’ve been pestering me to post these over the last few months. Last week’s “remoties” day reminded me how important this is to post – even in its rough state. I’ve fixed the most egregious errors/typos, and merged in some feedback I got in the Q&A sessions. However, these slides still need further work. If you spot anything to fix, please let me know!)

Back online, after my WordPress blog was hacked

I’m back online again, after lots of cleanup and reset work. Just what I didn’t need to soak up waste my “free time”. Grrr….

Given my day job, I’ve found myself to be very sympathetic to updates-to-fix-security problems, reacting more like “oh, goodie a fix” instead of “grrr… oh, not another update”. So, I found it interesting to note that I know I was already running the latest and greatest WordPress at the time of the breakin. As of now, I’ve reset the entire site, cleaned out the filesystem to remove malware, reset all passwords and done fresh installs of latest-versions of only-the-essentials. Other installed but not running software has been removed. And while I was at it, I added some extra monitoring to see if this happens again. Probably should have done all that the first time, but thats hindsight for you.

In case this happens to someone else reading this post, I recommend reading the following, which I found helpful: (tip-o-hat to lsblakk for the pointer):

Be safe out there, on the World Wild Web!

Doctors Without Borders in 2009, by the numbers

Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières just issued their annual report for 2009 (click here for PDF).

Some numbers that jumped out at me were:

  • 7,932,403 Meningitis Vaccinations
  • 1,419,427 Measles Vaccinations

For comparison, I note that the total population of Hong Kong is 7million, and San Francisco is 800,000. That is a *lot* of vaccinations – significantly more then all the war/earthquake/flood/disaster injuries they reported. Also in the list of medical procedures carried out in 2009 was “110,236 baby birth deliveries” – even in the midst of everything else, life goes on.

Japan: two weeks later

Still having a hard time grasping the scale of the earthquake in Japan. Most of the news in California is focused on the nuclear power plants at Fukushima, but the following struck me about the earthquake:

Its great to see Wikipedia and GoogleCrisisResponse spreading timely information, which is really important in situations like this.

This is two weeks later.

We get earthquakes here too, which raises the question: if an earthquake happened here in the bay area, could you be fully self-sufficient for at least 72hours? San Francisco Dept of Emergency Management has setup to help people prepare.

UPDATED: added today’s story about the dog. Searching building wreckage is dangerous, more so when its floating at sea, so I’ve lots of respect for the people continuing to do this day after day. joduinn 02apr2011.

Election pamphlets in San Francisco

Today was election day here in San Francisco.

When I first started getting election pamphlets in the mail months ago, I simply tossed them into recycling along with the junk mail. Eventually, it struck me that there seemed to be a lot, so out of curiosity, two weeks ago I started collecting them, putting all the various election pamphlets I’ve received in a pile. All unread.

Last night, I sat down to read them all, with a fresh cup of coffee.

There were so many, it was almost as tall as my coffee mug. Reading them all took hours.

Having avoided all the political TV/radio ads, reading these flyers was my first real exposure into the style of the election ads going on all campaign. Reading them all in one large pile like that was a bit of a culture shock, and frankly, disappointing.

Lots of “dont vote for the other person; they’re corrupt/evil/wrong! Instead you should vote for me; I’m honest/good/correct”. All the pamphlets were very destructive of the other candidates. Calling them “attack ads” glosses over the personal destructive nature of these pamphlets.

Very few leaders, with positive and open constructive discussions.

This doesn’t bode well for my hope of seeing elected officials working together to solve some (any!) of the pressing problems facing us today.


Trying an experiment this year instead of the usual tent.

Some friends of mine had these last year, and they were great. Obviously, well insulated means warm at night, and cool in the day – all wonderful things at BurningMan. However, they also kept the dust down, and kept the light out, so you could actually get some sleep after the beginning of sunrise.

Lets see how this experiment goes. So far, we’ve got all the parts cut, and taped. We’ve even tried some initial test placements, but never yet actually put it all together yet. Just in case, we’re still bringing tents from last year – after all, “what could possibly go wrong”!?!


Stay tuned – I’ll let you know how it went.

Burning Man Emergency Services by the numbers

Every year at Burning Man, Emergency Services handles a range of incidents. Here’s an infograph showing incident data for the last 3 years, broken down by incident type.

The source data is freely published on, but I really like how they visualize the data. This layout is immediately familiar to burners and is visually intuitive – more incidents of a specific type == larger area for that type. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version, and spend a few minutes skimming details; it was interesting reading!

The authors (GOOD and Hyperakt) end with “Try not to get flown out by helicopter”!

Excellent advice! 🙂