Presenting the Thunderbird QA team, Interview #5 Nathan

Ludovic Hirlimann

Me :Hello Nathan, you’ve been doing a lot of triage work over the last few weeks, could you introduce yourself to our readers (age, location … things you think a releveant) ?

Nathan :Well, I’m a 21-year-old software developer, living in sunny California – I don’t specialize in C++ code, unfortunately, though. As a number of Mozillians seem to be, I’m a committed Christian.

Me :How long have you been a Thunderbird user ? What was the first version of Thunderbird that you used ?

Nathan :I’ve been using Thunderbird ever since I switched over from Outlook 2007 in mid 2007 – I must have gotten a pretty brand-new version of 2.0, but I didn’t notice that at the time

Me :From that answer am I concluding correctly that you are a windows user ?

Nathan :Indeed so – I’ve been reasonably happy with Windows for half my life, though I’ve dabbled in Linux a good bit also. I even find Vista to be tolerable.. whether out of misplaced stubbornness, or some other reason, I don’t know.

Me :As said earlier you’ve been giving a much appreciated help over the last few weeks, can you tell us why ?

Nathan :Well, I really started to dig into Bugzilla, finding and commenting on bugs I’d noticed, during the 3.0 release cycle, starting about b2. Then in December last year, I realized I had some extra time, so I volunteered for Litmus testing. One thing led to another, and just a couple weeks ago, I started watching my first QA contacts (only half a dozen, right now), and here I am!

Nathan :That, at any rate, is the sequence. My motive, on the other hand, is mostly that I know I can track down problems in and around Thunderbird fairly effectively, and there’s definitely a need for help, so I’m trying to fill that as much as I can.

Me :Indeed , was the learning curve time consuming ? Was it difficult to get into it ?

Nathan :There’s a fair amount of policy and guideline material to read first, but I actually like the formalization of it – it makes common sense and experience a lot faster to get a hold of. Filing bugs is definitely an art form, as it requires so much communication in such a small space.
That said, I don’t think it took me more than a few weeks of a few hours a week to get into triaging, if even that – maybe because I’m already a developer? And it’s not difficult, really, it just takes some persistence.

Me :Do you enjoy doing it ?

Nathan :Most of the time, yes, it’s quite satisfying. I suppose that’s because I’m taking a load off other people (developers, other QA), and also because I’m helping the reporters in most cases. On the other hand, I see some genuinely unclear and frustrated reports, and that’s troubling, partly because I can’t do much to fix those – maybe no one can, in fact. But it all balances out, and I’m still on the plus side of the ledger.

Me :How much time do you spend helping the QA effort , say weekly ?

Nathan :A good question. Right now, I’m probably spending maybe 5-15 hours a week on it – I’d give you more specific data, but my time-logging program seems to have gone kaput, so that’s just my best guess. If I had to, I could easily reduce it just by watching fewer components – maybe down to 2 hours a week, or even less. But that’d be no fun!

Me :Any advice you would like to give to someone pondering about giving a hand ?

Nathan :Dive in. Like Wikipedia says, be bold! Any mistake can be fixed. But do read the instructions first, and spend some time looking at existing bug reports before making major changes – it’ll save a lot of embarrassment later.
Oh yes, and one more thing:
Get another email account for bugmail!

Me :Lol !
Are there areas where you have more interest in than other ? if so which one(s) ?

Nathan :Right now, I’m mostly focused on the visible front end and the IMAP support – perhaps because I have nearly two dozen IMAP accounts, and am definitely a power user. (Scratching the ol’ itch, you know?) Some of TB’s internals and soon-to-be internals (Gloda, Jetpack, STEEL, etc) strike me as really cool, but they don’t touch me as directly; maybe soon, though!

Me :Power user heh ! Do you use extensions ? If so can you lists the one you use ?

Nathan :Sure thing! But there’s quite a lot..

Nathan :Add-on Compatibility Reporter, Nightly Tester Tools, Lightning Nightly Updater

Nathan :Bugmail, CompactHeader, CustomizeHeaderToolbar, Display Mail User Agent

Nathan :Mail Redirect, Signature Switch, jsLib, TagZilla, The Real Reply

Nathan :Diccionario español Argentina, Addressbooks Synchronizer, Duplicate Contact Manager, FiltaQuilla, JunQuilla, Lightning, TaQuilla, ThunderNote, ToneQuilla

Nathan :I keep trying ThunderBrowse, but for some reason, I can never quite get used to it.. I guess I’ll probably never be a Suite/SM type of person. Seems a good extension, though.

Nathan :Those are just the enabled ones.

Me :What version of Thunderbird do you actually run ?

Nathan :3.0.1 mostly; I have a copy of (re-installed just the other day, in fact) for troubleshooting, and maybe a nightly or so scattered around for the odd regression test. I’ll probably start using 3.1b1 soon after it comes out, though I’ll still maintain a 3.0.x install for testing.

Me :Anything you would like to add ?

Nathan :Hmm.. well, I would like to mention, on behalf of every QA person in existence, that it really helps if you follow the instructions on the Bugzilla entry form.. really really.

Nathan :I’d also like to thank the whole MoMo team for hanging in on the long road to 3.0! It’s a great release.

Me :Thanks for helping and taking the time to do this. Next Time I’m in Mountain View we’ll go for a drink !