Beer & Tech Community Events

Disclaimer: I like beer. I read about beer. I make my own beer. I even go to a Benedictine Abbey once a month to brew beer with monks.

Chris shared Ryan Funduk's post describing the tech community's enthusiasm for alcohol that implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, excludes non-drinkers. Ryan makes a keen insight that deserves wider consideration - that the alcohol "fun gamut" attracts brogrammers.

Obviously, "brogrammers" aren't the only ones in our community who enjoy alcohol. Ryan correctly points out that drinking is widespread, yet "brogrammers" are, thankfully, a small though obnoxious minority. So we can ask bigger questions - What is it about alcohol that we like? What does it do to us? Then finally, how should we incorporate it into community events?

What is it about CH3CH2OH that we like?

Science!Alcohol directly affects the prefrontal cortex responsible for judgement and inhibition by prolonging the opening of chloride ion channels which floods post-synaptic cells with chloride ions so the cells cannot as readily respond to stimuli. Alcohol also inhibits dopamine breakdown which extends our dopamine system's pleasure sensations. Alcohol acts as a sedative on our entire central nervous system.[1]

Our brains need some R&R -  All of this can be especially relaxing for people (like developers?) who are constantly exercising their central nervous system; the prefrontal cortex is particularly believed to work on complex cognitive behavior like solving abstract problems. No wonder we like to give it a rest!

Alcohol is an identity microscope

True SelfAs we relax our prefrontal cortex, we also lose inhibitions and judgement.

A couple years ago I discussed this from a Christian perspective with my theology professors (over a couple pints of beer, of course!). Drinking alcohol ranges from religiously required (as in my Catholic tradition!) to socially taboo (in some mainline Evangelical traditions) to religiously forbidden (in Mormon and some fundamentalist traditions) among Christian worldviews. So, we covered lots of angles. I left with an opinion that as alcohol lowers our inhibitions, we can somewhat discover how much of our faith is just inhibitory religious codes, and how much we are actually allowing our "true selves" (as Thomas Merton calls it) to be transformed to the life of Jesus.

It's not just a religious thing. We all know "sloppy drunks", "mean drunks", "emotional drunks", "tired drunks", etc. But alcohol doesn't make us mean or angry or sexist or emotional - alcohol removes other inhibitions we pile on top of those parts of ourselves. So here's the point - if I make a sexist comment while intoxicated, I'm sexist. (For whatever definition of 'sexist' we use.) If I'm sexist, that's something I need to change, regardless of alcohol consumption.

We need to improve as a community in lots of ways, with or without alcohol.

Can we put alcohol on the same level as caffeine?

Since I'm only making my rough observations and opinions, I don't have any specific suggestions for how we should handle alcohol at tech community events. Ryan makes some good ones in his post, there's a decent little discussion going on in Mozilla's engagement-developers list, and Rob gives some good general advice.

I very much agree with Ryan and Rob. I'd like to see alcohol as one entertainment among many at technology events. It can be an aspect of any event, but shouldn't ever be the main aspect of any event. I personally will always go check out the craft and local beers available at any event. (I make a habit to try to visit a brewery and a cathedral anytime I travel.)

But what I really want at these events, and what happens the vast majority of the time, even the "party" events, is to mingle with others who are passionate about technology - no matter what drink they're holding.

Tulsa Web Devs press tour

This Land PressOr as close to anything like a press release that we'll ever have. This Land Press ran a Government 2.0 in Oklahoma article and featured Tulsa Web Devs! w00t!

They also did a live stream from our Tulsa Hackathon event last fall.

Thanks This Land for helping us tell our story!

MDN 2.4.5

Late as usual! MDN 2.4.5 bug list and backlog.


  • Wiki
    Syntax Highlighting
    KumaScript is in! (Though it's not available on stage9 yet.)
    Migrations are running on stage9
  • Bugs

Check the MDN 2.5 backlog for what we're pushing next!

MDN 2.4

MDN 2.4 bug list. This was our first 1-week sprint and release, so there's not as much to report.


  • Wiki
    Nothing shipped, but Les filed the master bug for KumaScript - our replacement for DekiScript.
  • BrowserID
    Fixed lots of little bugs and enabled BrowserID for French, German, Spanish, Polish, and Chinese locales.

MDN 2.4.5

MDN 2.4.5 sprint backlog.

  • Wiki
    KumaScript lives and I ran it successfully on my local environment!
    Syntax highlighting for code samples - both new and migrated
    Profile doc activity feed switched to Kuma
  • Some bugs

So, wiki work continues at a good clip and our process seems to be going well. We're changing our standup time to 10am PT since most of the team is CT or ET now.

Editing MDN with VIM

UPDATED: New screenshot with html filetype! Thanks Screwtape for the tip in the comments!

Yes, it's possible! If you're like me you want to spend as much time in vim as possible. While I appreciate CKEditor on MDN, I personally prefer to edit text in vim, and I think many developers might agree. And since MDN should include content written by developers for developers, here's a way to edit your favorite web developer docs (that would be MDN), using vim. (In my case, MacVim)
It's All Text Preferences

  1. Install the It's All Text Firefox addon.
  2. Go to the IAT preferences
  3. set your editor to vim ( in my case)
  4. set your hotkey. (alt+command+e in my case, now that I'm used to Firefox Dev Tools "Inspect" and "Console" keyboard hotkeys)
  5. Go to the MDN article you want to edit. (Apps/Getting Started in my case)
  6. Click Edit (duh)
  7. Click Source
  8. Type your hotkey!
  9. Drink beer and edit away!*
  10. :wq

* groovecoder is not responsible for whatever Sheppy might do to you if you actually edit MDN while intoxicated.

MacVim Quite on CloseNote: For MacVim you may need to set the "After last window closes: Quit MacVim" preference so it puts you right back to Firefox when you :wq.

Apps/Getting Started in vim

MDN 2.3

Released February 28th. We are moving to weekly releases on MDN so these posts are hard to keep up. I will probably start combining releases. And I'm just going to link to the MDN 2.3 bug list instead of linking individual bugs.

  • Wiki
    migrate tags from MindTouch to Kuma
    (Re-)enable tag display and editing
    remove extra redirect for locales
    verify code samples work post-migration
  • BrowserID
    fix login infinite redirect bug
  • HTML5 & Apps MWC pages
    Paul and Craig cranked out the new HTML5 and Apps landing pages in time for MWC

ScrumBugs for MDN 2.3While Paul was with us he created ScrumBugs! I love it! I always appreciated the way we did Agile/Scrum/XP/whatever at, and I've been forcing pushing for Mozilla WebDev to adopt some of the same practices. And I just really like pretty graphs! Can you tell?! :)

MDN 2.4 & 2.4.5

We're calling our first weekly sprints 2.4 and 2.4.5, but I think next we'll just move to 2.5, 2.6, ... until we all meet up in New York for MDNYC. At that point we'll probably abandon bugzilla milestones and just use the whiteboard to organize bugs into sprints based on release dates. Until then, here's what we're working on for 2.4 and 2.4.5.

  • BrowserID
    Hopefully killing all the remaining BrowserID bugs so we can concentrate on wiki
  • Wiki
    Les is rocking lots of KumaScript work
    Migrate file attachments
    Wiki code syntax highlighting
    Refine UI for tag editing
    Activate continuous migration on staging server for MDN doc community

MDN 2.2

  • BrowserID
    bug 721171 to draw Sign in buttons with progressive enhancement - should hopefully fix our search results snippets too! ><
    bug 719945 to link to browserid on the demo submit page
  • MindTouch wiki migration
    prepare for localized page migration (bug 717380)
    scripting architecture (bug 715253)
  • More

Kumascript Diagram

I'm excited about kumascript - lmorchard's prototype for implementing server-side scripting in kuma to replace DekiScript. I'm glad we're using JavaScript. I was a little surprised that MediaWiki chose Lua for their new scripting language (is it ironic that DekiWiki and its Lua-based DekiScript has roots close to MediaWiki and now MediaWiki is going to Lua-based scripting too?). JavaScript just makes sense for us - a community of web developers writing web developer docs.

MDN 2.2.5

MDN 2.3

MDN 2.1

We're doing better at keeping away from big new features while we try to work on the wiki migration, so there's no big item in today's release notes.

  • More BrowserID cleanup
    bug 715723 was really annoying - Sign in was broken from wiki pages
    bug 715811 should help users who've forgotten which email address they use on MDN
  • MindTouch wiki migration
    James did a thorough job on bug 710734 to expand the markup allowed in kuma
    Les did some more great working discovering all MindTouch namespace pages (bug 710753) and script template usage (bug 714804)
    Craig fixed up a bunch of CSS issues we've discovered as we migrate real content (bug 710737)
  • More

MDN 2.2

MDN 2.0

Wow, that's how much of a non-event a "2.0" product release is these days. I forgot to publish this when we pushed 2.0. Might as well publish before our 2.1 push today. :)

MDN 2.1

  • Set up 'master' and 'next' branches and corresponding stage servers on (bug 710747)
  • Wiki content migration & work
  • Architecture for migrating MindTouch DekiScript templates into Django JavaScript templates (bug 715253)

Small sprint this time, but Les made some great progress on our wiki migration. I'm forcing myself to do a migration script bug this sprint so I learn enough of that code to follow his architecture and contribute what I can.

MDN 1.9

MDN 1.9

MDN 2.0

  • Set up 'master' and 'next' branches and corresponding stage servers on
  • Wiki content migration & work


BrowserID Sign-inA few years ago I pushed hard for OpenID on OpenID was and is a noble project. But now I can tell some big advantages of BrowserID over OpenID:

  • It feels like an identity. I cognitively associate my online identity with my email, and BrowserID is a verified-email protocol. When I saw my email in the BrowserID login dialog on MDN, I already understand that I'm logging in - much more-so than an empty 'URL' input box.
  • No NASCAR effect. Because BrowserID is designed to be an open web standard, there's a single sign-in button that invokes a javascript API. It can be polyfilled with Mozilla's BrowserID service until platforms implement it, but even that will automatically be consumed by platform-native UI.
  • The site already knows you. As a site owner, we already have email addresses for our users. So when you sign in with BrowserID, we don't have to say "Now sign in with your existing account to merge your new identity with your existing" the way we did with OpenID. We know you own that email, so we log you into the account with that email address - simple.
  • Changing email is easy. Craig and I fretted for a whole hour or so over how to let users change their email address with BrowserID, but we were over-thinking it. Since BrowserID is effectively a streamlined "verify your email" dance, we simply point our "Change email" links to our sign-in page. If you're already signed in, and you sign in with a new verified email address, we simply update your email. BrowserID has already done the whole verify-your-email-address dance.
  • No lock-in. We get a verified email address from BrowserID, so we can register users in django with set_unusable_password(). But if we ever drop BrowserID (oh noes!), we have a verified email address. So we can initiate an email-based password reset flow for users. In addition, any site can run their own verification service so they don't need to call Mozilla's BrowserID at all.
  • Privacy. Finally, BrowserID is a user-centric identity system. This really hit me when I watched Ben's Deeper Look at BrowserID video. Especially when BrowserID is implemented in other platforms, Mozilla doesn't sit between you and the sites or services you use. A primary authority can issue identity certificates to your agent, and you present those certificates to other parties for authentication. "This triangle is never closed."

BrowserID Triangle

All-in-all, it was much simpler and much more intuitive to implement BrowserID on MDN than it was to implement OpenID on SourceForge. The Mozilla Identity team has built an awesome product, and Les integrated django-browserid with his trademark pace and effectiveness. BrowserID is great for the whole web - it will help us regain control of our online identities. It's worth repeating, "the people I work with are built of brains and heart" - it's another great day for Mozillians and for the web.

/me is so proud

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