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A Personal Persona Post-Mortem

On 14, Jan 2016 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Ryan Feeley

In reaction to a Bring Back Persona blog post, I wrote this response.

persona-logo-250I joined Mozilla’s Persona team as a designer in May of 2013 until it was destaffed less than a year later. I spent my time ramping up, introducing UX improvements, and watching users struggle with Persona, but since then haved moved on to Firefox Accounts, Passwords and Sync.

While I feel that Persona has a great heart, it possesses several flaws, some of which I would argue are fatal.

#1. Email addresses are not permanent identifiers. Let me tell you about, Mozillians.org, which is a website that supports Persona. Very often Mozilla employees create accounts using their mozilla.org email address which authenticates against the Mozilla (LDAP) Identity Provider. When those employees leave Mozilla (including, ironically, some of the founders of Persona) they no longer control that identity, and can no longer access their account. Their Mozillians.org profile is trapped in time. With a conventional login, as long as you remember your password, you can get in. Losing access to an email address should not mean a loss of accounts everywhere.

#2. Persona is great for internal apps when access control isn’t critical Mozilla uses Persona for some internal applications, and it works beautifully. We run a proper IdP so when you enter a Mozilla email, you get the Mozilla LDAP screen, and you’re in. The problem for most organizations is access control. When someone leaves the org and has their email cut off, their Persona sessions don’t instantly expire. Allowing ex-employees to access internal applications, even temporarily, is a deal-breaker for many.

#3. Marketing Persona as another social sign-in option (aka the NASCAR) was death by a thousand cuts. Persona is an unknown and untrusted name. Mozilla is not as well known as Firefox. Firefox is assumed to be browser specific. Persona requires its own password, unless it doesn’t. Email providers showed no interest. UX around multiple emails was unclear. Persona is perceived as a login process interloper. Site owners want to control all of the UX. Persona used a pop-up which users interpret negatively. NASCAR usage has declined. Users are often surprised Persona provides the sites with their email.

If these flaws are fatal, what can feasibly carry the torch? Could one day Facebook’s Anonymous Login be truly anonymous masking activity from Facebook as well? Would Google follow suit? I know that Firefox Accounts will soon support the ability to sign in to a site with a generated UUID, but this would still require a Firefox Account, making it very different than a federated login like Persona. Curious to read your thoughts.

Best Prank Ever

On 23, Sep 2007 | One Comment | In Uncategorized | By Ryan Feeley

A few months ago I was the victim of an elaborate prank; one so ingenious that I would like to share its details with you.

My wife and were married just over a year ago. We received many wonderful gifts from friends and family, including people I had not heard from in years. About eight months after the wedding a best wishes card arrived in the mail from someone I had not seen in probably 15 years. It was from a neighbourhood dad from my hometown who makes his living as a motivational speaker; a very unique trade for a small town. You must check out his web site to see just how very unique he is.

A few weeks before this, one of his daughters had contacted me on FaceBook. I assumed she had gleaned from my profile that I was recently married and had passed along the news to her dad. The envelope contained a card, a letter and a gift card to The Bay for $125! A wonderful surprise! However the gift itself was nothing compared to the PRICELESS contents of the letter which were a scrambled mess of Tonyrobbinisms including an invitation to his “Energy for Life” presentation in Niagara Falls. It was absolutely incredible yet I completely believed it. I even sent his daughter a message on FaceBook asking her to thank her dad for the generous gift.

Weeks later when discussing the card with my family my brother shook his head in disbelief. “STEVE did it!” he shouted, referring to a friend we’d grown up who lived next door to the motivational speaker. I asked him “Well what about the $125?”. There was a pause, and then… “Well what did he get you as a wedding present?”.

  View Full Size. Really!

I got up from the table, got on my knees and pressed my forehead to the floor. I had been had by a great master of pranks, one who even gave generously. The connection to his daughter on Facebook was a complete coincidence which, luckily for Steve, added another dimension of believability to the prank. I hope you will get even 1% of the laugh that I got from this prank.

The onimoD Effect

On 04, Jul 2007 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Ryan Feeley


Dominoes, originally uploaded by Napalm filled tires.

I hereby submit for consideration into the greater discourse a term to explain an often occurring phenomenon in as condensed a manner as possible.

Have you ever set out to solve a problem, only to uncover an intermediary problem? This happens far too regularly in the world of computers.

“Before you get to him, you’ll have to go through me first.”

It is the opposite of the Domino Effect where a series of events unfolds with ease. Hence, The onimoD Effect.

I’m on a Mexican Video

On 10, Jun 2007 | No Comments | In Uncategorized | By Ryan Feeley

We’ve been back a week from our better-than-honeymooon trip to Patzcuaro Mexico. Here’s a selection of videos hosted on Google Video, which if you can believe it, has been processing one of the videos for a whole week and is still not done.

An almost 360° view of the Patzcuaro’s central square called Plaza Vasco de Quiroga.


Some of traditional dancers on the square doing the dance of the Viejitos (little old fogies?).


Even more.


Some caged chicks for sale. Not what it sounds like.


An almost 360° view from the highest point in town.


The hotel’s security official, an adorable Shar Pei called Vanilla with some nerve problems in his back legs.


During rainy season it rains up to an hour a day but what a cathartic rain it is.