Performance testing Firefox OS on reference devices

A while back I wrote about the LEGO harness I created for Eideticker to hold both the device and camera in place. Since then there has been a couple of iterations of the harness. When we started testing against our low-cost prototype device, the harness needed modifying due to the size difference and position of the USB socket. At this point I tried to create a harness that would fit all of our current devices, with the hope of avoiding another redesign.

Eideticker harness v2.0 If you’re interested in creating one of these yourself, here’s the LEGO Digital Designer file and building guide.

Unfortunately, when I first got my hands on our reference device (codenamed ‘Flame’) it didn’t fit into the harness. I had to go back to the drawing board, and needed to be a little more creative due to the width not matching up too well with the dimensions of LEGO bricks. In the end I used some slope bricks (often used for roof tiles) to hold the device securely. A timelapse video of constructing the latest harness follows.



We now are 100% focused on testing against our reference device, so in London we have two dedicated to running our Eideticker tests, as shown in the photo below.

Eideticker harness for FlameAgain, if you want to build one of these for yourself, download the LEGO Digital Designer file and building guide. If you want to learn more about the Eideticker project check out the project page, or if you want to see the dashboard with the latest results, you can find it here.

A new home for the gaiatest documentation

The gaiatest python package provides a test framework and runner for testing Gaia (the user interface for Firefox OS). It also provides a handy command line tool and can be used as a dependency from other packages that need to interact with Firefox OS.

Documentation for this package has now been moved to, which is generated directly from the source code whenever there’s an update. In order to make this more useful we will continue to add documentation to the Python source code. If you’re interested in helping us out please get in touch by leaving a comment, or joining #ateam on and letting us know.

Giving up and getting fit

Last July, on my 31st birthday I removed coffee from my diet. On the same day of the month since then I have removed something new from my diet, and pretty soon I will have completed a year of this. I didn’t keep a diary, but I’ve been considering for a while that I should write about my experience, and how it ultimately led to me getting back into fitness and losing over 40lbs.

It started on the eve of my birthday when I decided to go out and pick up some fast food for dinner. I guess it was meant to be a ‘treat’ although it’s rarely worth the effort and cost. In this case I put it down as the reason I felt terribly sick on my birthday, and as a result I completely lost my appetite for a few days. In these days one of the things I didn’t consume was coffee – I had essentially detoxed and removed caffeine from my system. Before this I was probably only really having 2-3 cups a day, so it’s not like I had a really bad addiction. I then decided it would be worth seeing if I can last out a full month without coffee.

It was a little surprising to me how easy it was to just cut one thing out of my diet, and I have to confess that it wasn’t too long before I’d substituted the caffeine deficit from tea or soft drinks. Towards the end of this first month I had already started to think about how else I could experiment with my diet. I’d already gone a month without coffee without much effort, so why should I start drinking it again now? I decided that I’d find something else in my diet that has a perceived negative impact on health and eliminate it in addition to coffee.

So my second month I gave up chocolate, and in my third I gave up alcohol. I had already recognised a pattern of substitution, so rather than give up beer (and probably end up substituting wine or other alcoholic drinks) I decided to just remove all alcohol from my diet. In my fourth month I gave up pizza, and in my fifth and sixth months I gave up crisps (potato chips) and biscuits (cookies). All the while I had been regularly weighing myself and measuring my body fat percentage, and although I wasn’t expecting to see a weight change I was curious to see if there would be an impact. I saw that my body fat had decreased by about 10%, but my weight had increased slightly.

Having been conscious of my weight for a while, I decided at New Year to do something about it. I was at the high end of the ‘overweight’ range according to the body mass index, so I set myself the goal of losing enough to get myself into the ‘normal’ range, which was around 40lbs. It was obvious that my dietary experimentation was not causing me to lose weight (and I hadn’t expected it to) so it was going to take something else to help me reach my goal. What better than a fad diet?

I had some success in the past with the 5:2 diet, where you essentially eat what you want on five days of the week, and on two non-consecutive days you fast. I picked Monday and Wednesday as my ‘fast days’ and decided that rather than continuously calorie count on these days I’d just work out a couple of low calorie meals and then eat the same thing every week. So for the last six months I’ve eaten omelette and stir-fry on Mondays, and bircher muesli and fish with roasted vegetables on Wednesdays. These are all things I like, so it wasn’t too hard, and the great thing about this diet is that when you’re fasting, you can always eat whatever you want the very next day.

I continued to cut things out of my diet too, so on my seventh month I gave up ice cream. Around the time I gave up sweets (candy) for my eighth month I had lost about 10lbs, but I could already see that my weight loss was slowing. This is when I decided to go running for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Before long I had explored some great areas to run nearby, the weight kept coming off, and I was steadily improving my pace.

For my ninth month I gave up fizzy drinks (soda), and for my tenth month I gave up chips (fries). I had decided early on to not give up things that are common ingredients such as bread or cheese, as that would be too difficult to constantly remember and check for. Everything I gave up was really easy to avoid, although I did get some strange looks when ordering a burger with no fries.

With just two months left I wanted to really challenge myself. I had given up coffee, but whenever that came up in conversation I was inevitably asked if I drink tea. So this became my eleventh item, which again surprised me how easy it was to give up. I now drink a lot more water than I ever used to, and taking away the choice of what to drink has been somewhat liberating. For my last month it was obvious to me what I needed to give up: cakes!

Probably because I hadn’t already excluded it, I was eating a lot of cake. My wife likes to bake, and so there’s often something in, and I had got into the habit of eating them on most of my non-fasting days. It didn’t feel right that I should have a year of purging bad foods from my diet knowing that I had continued all the while to eat cake. So this last month, I have not been eating cake, and it wasn’t that hard!

This week I met my weight target of 168lbs. Next week is my 32nd birthday, and I’m taking the family out for pizza. Of all the things I’ve given up, I’ve missed pizza the most.

To track my weight loss I used Fitbit Aria scales and TrendWeight. For tracking activity I used Fitbit Flex, my iPhone 5, and Zombies, Run! which I’ve synced to RunKeeper and Strava.

The full list of foods I excluded from my diet each month is: coffee, chocolate, alcohol, pizza, crisps (potato chips), biscuits (cookies), ice cream, sweets (candy), fizzy drinks (soda), chips (fries), tea, cake. From next week I’ll be reintroducing most of these into my diet gradually, and in moderation.