December’s SFx Volunteer Spotlight
Otto de Voogd is December’s Spread Firefox Volunteer Spotlight member of the month.
Otto is the owner and operator of 7is7.com where he has several pages devoted to Firefox content including Firefox Utilities and Fire up the Fox!. He is an active and loyal member of Spread Firefox, and he always responds to comments on SFx in a helpful and accurate way. Otto has selflessly been a great contributor to Firefox and he’s a strong supporter of other Open Source products such as OpenOffice.org and Linux. He is also trying to contribute to the Open Source community with his own project, StatEye, a traffic analysis tool for webmasters. For more information on Otto’s current and ongoing projects, visit 7is7.com
The SFx team interviewed Otto on various topics and he was gracious enough to answer.
How long have you been using Firefox?
I have been using Firefox since the summer of 2004, it was still in version 0.9. I would have been using Firefox a lot earlier if I had not been traveling at the time, as I have always been looking for a good alternative browser.
For what reason(s) did you start using Firefox?
The first time I tried Firefox I was so impressed it felt like a breath of fresh air, a kind of liberation!
Why did you become a member of Spread Firefox?
Mozilla gave me a great browser demanding nothing in return from me. But I wanted to contribute somehow in order to give something back.
Then one day I discovered Spread Firefox after having installed Firefox on a computer in an Internet cafe and checked the default bookmarks. I signed up immediately and added a button to my site (actually there was a button already but not with the affiliate link). After my travels I started to become more active on SFx.
As Firefox is the most successful open source project it is a beacon that can serve and inspire other open source projects. I hope OpenOffice.org and many others will follow in our footsteps.
For what reasons are you such a strong advocate for Open Source?
That is a good question. My interest in open source started years ago when I noticed the superior quality of open source products, like the GNU C compiler and the Apache webserver. Some of the reasons open source products are often better include, the inclination to adhere to standards and best practices, the ability of code to be reviewed and modified by peers resulting in quicker detection and fixing of bugs for example. If I am using open source software and want a feature added or bug fixed I can do it myself or pay someone else to do it for me without having to rely on the company that made the software, it just makes it much more versatile.
At this point in time, as a developer and programmer, open source is also an attractive option, it helps you in two ways, your work spreads faster and others may help with the development. You can still make money by providing support and other services to those that require it.
Then there is the issue of open formats, I strongly believe in that, just imagine if the HTML standard belonged to one company and we'd have to pay each time we use it. Hence I avoid the use of proprietary formats myself.
You wrote the software offered on your site including the Firefox search plugins generator, Browser Wars Checkers and others. Why did you take the time to create these for Firefox, rather than writing programs that you could profit off of?
The software that you mentioned are all part of my attempts to spread Firefox, sometimes with a bit of humor, as Browser Wars Checkers, where IE is a cold blooded machine and difficult to beat. Others are intended to be useful to people who use Firefox. It was a lot of fun making them, sometimes there were interesting challenges I learned from.
What would you like to see for Firefox in the future?
I am curious about the new 'places' feature in Firefox 3, as I have so many bookmarks that I need a better way to search and order them. But more important than what should change in the future is that which should not change: I'd like Firefox to stay the slick and easy to use tool it is right now, it has smart defaults, yet let's you customize everything you may want. It is not trying to be all things to all people, it is trying to be a browser and trying to be the best at that job. It is clear that the people behind Firefox really think about what they are doing and love their product.
I hope that Firefox will one day no longer be the alternative browser but the first browser of choice for most people, that OEMs will start to pre-install Firefox on computers, that more people will choose alternative operating systems as these tend to have Firefox by default.
Final comments from Otto
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Spread Firefox community for all their efforts, each person's contribution whether big or small is worthwhile as it really does add up. Seeing the community that has developed around Firefox gives me a warm feeling.