Take Back the Field
Does the sudden appearance of a Firefox crop circle imply which browser
extraterrestrials prefer? We don't know, but it was still fun to make!
Constructed by local Firefox fans and the same team that created the Firefox mural from cornstarch and kool-aid and launched the Firefox weather balloon, the Firefox Crop Circle project shows that we have so much passion for Firefox that we want it to be visible from space!
Planned in under two weeks and completed in under 24 hours, the crop
circle had a final diameter of 220 feet. We constructed the circle in
an oat field near Amity, Oregon, where it was completely invisible from
the road but unmistakable from the sky. Our team consisted of 12
people, mainly OSU students, and we carefully stomped down oats from
3:30pm Friday afternoon until 2:30am, putting on the finishing touches
between 7:30am and 11:00am Saturday, August 12.
Matt and John, Mozilla video interns, came up with the idea a few weeks
beforehand. Fueled by the enthusiasm of Asa Dotzler at Mozilla,
suddenly the crop circle was within reach. While at OSCON 2006 in
Portland, the three of them ran into members of the OSLUG, and things
really started to take shape.
The Plot Thickens
With the idea, the enthusiasm, and the commitment in place, the next
thing we needed was to find a field and contact the owner for
permission. At first, we simply asked people visiting the Mozilla booth
if they had a field or knew anyone in the area who did. Even at OSCON,
where you wouldn't expect to find too many farmers, we had a few leads
right away, which showed how close we were to making the project work.
Finally, Beth contacted Alex, whose family lived near the owners of
an oat field in the Amity area. A few phone calls and emails later and
permission was secured! We had an unharvested field of oats!
Other important details were worked out soon afterwards: We coordinated
our schedules and settled on a weekend. We worked out car-pool plans
and made a list of supplies. We even found a pilot to help us see what
we were doing from the air! Finally, we were ready to begin planning
the crop-circle's construction.
How we did it
We quickly designed and printed large posters that had a two color
version of the logo. With that we bisected the image into 32 sections
and overlayed 60 concentric circles with even space between them. In
our mock up, the gap between the circles was two feet.
On top of the design, we also constructed our stompers. Inspired by
the discovery channel, our stompers were constructed using 2x4's and
With our plan and stompers ready, we hit the field.
Constructing the Fox
First, the Firefox globe was created by connecting a taut measuring
tape to the end of a stake and walking around in a 220ft circle.
"*walkie talkie screech* we're going from 2 to 4 from 74 to 86 *screech*".
This was standard lingo we developed to quickly report our progress
to the rest of the team. For example "from 2 to 4 from 74 to 86" means
we were about to stomp an area from ray number 2 to ray number 4
(somewhat analogous to going from 2 o'clock to 4 o'clock) with a depth
from 74' from the center to 86' from the center. With two teams of
stompers, each with a walkie talkie and smaller version of the map, we
reported our progress to our map team located outside the circle where
they recorded all the work by highlighting it on their copy of the map.
The map team then knew what needed work and what had been finished even
when the stomping teams couldn't see each other.
The first pass of stomping was knocking down all the big empty areas:
After we stomped down all the big areas in a boxy grid-like pattern, we
"connected the dots" by smoothing out all the edges and blending the
corners of the grid to fill everything in. For the most part,
everything went perfectly! We had a brief accident around midnight and
accidentally gave our Firefox a little bump on the head, but after we
saw what we had done, fixing it wasn't very difficult. We bet you can't
Like any good open source project, we spent a lot of time
documenting the process. We had an army of digital cameras, two
dedicated videographers, a plane, and a helicopter. All of this allowed
us to get some great coverage!
The hard work paid off!
Maybe the google earth cameras picked it up!
Without these folks this could not have happened:
- Terry & Monty Woods (Crop owners)
- John Imlah (Farmer/adjoining land)
- Gretchen Brunner (adjoining Land owners )
- Ron & Mary Lou Polvi (chief cooks)
- Alex Polvi (Google/OSLUG)
- Beth Gordon (OSLUG)
- Jason Siefken (OSLUG)
- John Carey (Mozilla-film maker)
- Eric Searcy (OSLUG)
- Emily Nashif (OSLUG)
- Ken Yoneda (Mozilla translator)
- Stuart McKim (OSLUG)
- Michael Marineau (OSLUG)
- Matt Shichtman (Mozilla-film maker)
- Scott Nichols (OSLUG)
- David "Crash" Mandrell (pilot)
- Asa Dotzler (Mozilla)
- Chris Dibona (Google)
Check out the full photo gallery here!
This whole crazy thing started to come together at OSCON 2006.
We resolved a bug listed in the Mozilla Bugzilla!
In The News
We very quickly got a TON of diggs at digg.com.
The users on del.icio.us found us as well.
We made Slashdot and our little dual Pentium 3 w/ 512MB RAM box didn't have a problem at all! :-D
The story hit a local news paper in McMinnville, OR.