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Ask a Mozilla Person About Firefox 2.0 339

Last week's interview guest was Dean Hachamovitch, formal title "general manager Internet Explorer at Microsoft Corp." This week we have Chris Beard, Mozilla's Vice President of Products. (Here's a recent "pre-Firefox 2 release" interview with Chris that you might want to look at to avoid duplicating questions.) Chris will be calling on other Mozilla and Firefox people to help answer your questions, but he's the point man here. Slashdot interview rules apply, as always.
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Ask a Mozilla Person About Firefox 2.0

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  • cake (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:37PM (#16660555)
    How was the cake from MS?
  • Tabs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:40PM (#16660613)
    What were you thinking with the changes to the tab UI? Everyone who opens enough tabs to trip it hates the scrolling, yet the justification for the feature was based on those who don't open enough tabs. Will it be changed back, or will we forever need to visit about:config on installing FireFox?
    • Christ, and what's your alternative - NOT being able to get to your tabs at all? There IS a menu right next to that (ala Safari and others).

      Seriously - what the hell should the behavior be?
      • I used TabMix extension and it simply put in a second row of small tabs once I had enough open. Also, it let me keep the close tab button at the top right corner.
        There's really no excuse for not being able to instantly click on any of your tabs, whether because of scrolling, or because of them simply being unattainably hidden under.
        Either way, the standard FF way totally sucks.
        Find an extension you like that manages tabs better, thats my advice.
    • "Everyone who opens enough tabs to trip it hates the scrolling..."

      Personally, I like the scrolling, and you aren't positing any better suggestions.
      • by bedroll ( 806612 )
        I agree with gp that the scrolling isn't as efficient as alternative methods.

        With the old method of handling tabs (resizing them to oblivion) I could typically keep track of what page was open and where. Often the custom site icons would help with this.

        My alternative of choice would be to simply add a new row of tabs. That way they are all still visible and you can easily switch from one to the other. This would solve most of the usability problems with either of the other two methods.

        Another suggestion I c
        • It might be kind of flashy, but maybe they could set something up that when tabs get sufficiently compressed, you have a zoom thing like they have on Mac OSX's dock, where the tab under the mouse expands to be wider than the other tabs so you can see what tab you're looking at even when things get really compressed.

          Maybe that's the sort of thing best done as a plugin, though.
  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:43PM (#16660657)
    Dear Chris Beard, I have used Firefox since before 1.0, and one thing that Internet Explorer has always beaten FF on is rendering speed. With the release of IE7, Microsoft has made IE at least feel faster than before, and it certainly has adopted many features that made FF such a stand-out, security not withstanding. I would like to know if Mozilla has made it a priority in the past to give FF a rendering speed competitive with or faster than IE, and if we will see FF becoming competitive with or faster than IE in rendering web pages in future releases? Thanks.
    • Who cares how fast it's rendering something when it's not rendering the correct thing. When IE gets better CSS support, then you can talk about and compare rendering speeds. If all we wanted was rendering speed, we'd all be using lynx.
      • For the 20-30 pages I visit regularly, I haven't noticed a rendering difference between IE7 and Firefox.

        I suspect the same holds for 80% of the internet population. The 80/20 rule.

        So why would the 80% try out a "slower" browser? And before you say Mozilla doesn't care about the 80% ... they do, they are a corporation [] complete with a board of directors and chairman.
      • we care (Score:2, Insightful)

        by vp0ng ( 751157 )
        Missing the point completely. the question was asked because people DO care about rendering speed. I could just as easily say "Who cares about the acceleration speed of my car? It still gets me from point A to point B" People want things to go fast. Fast cars, fast internet, and fast browsers. If people weren't concerned about speed, we'd all be on 9600bps modems.
  • Competition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:45PM (#16660699) Homepage
    What do you feel are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of Opera?

    What do you feel are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of Safari?

    What do you feel are the greatest strengths of IE7? (I won't ask about weaknesses...)
  • Strategy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by otacon ( 445694 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:48PM (#16660729)
    With the continued growth of Firefox, there are still a lot of users out there that do not even know they have a choice as far as browsers go. Is there any effort to reach the average joe consumer, other than word of mouth, and if so what would that strategy be.
  • Why didn't you fix Firefox's single huge glaring flaw, the memory leak that makes it practically unusable?
    • What memory leak. I have been using firefox for years, and have never seen it go above 100 MB, and I often have more than 10 tabs open, with lots of images. Yet I've heard stories of it going up to 700 MB. I don't even see how this could happen. Is it just a question of using some weird extensions/plugins? Or is there a real problem that I'm just not encountering. What are the specific repeatable test cases on a base install of firefox with no extensions and plugins that get it to eat up 700 MB of RAM?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vellmont ( 569020 )
        Right now I'm running FF on Linux and I'm using up 200 megs of memory. I've seen the same behavior on Windows on my machine, and on a clients machine. The only plugin I've got running on the linux machine is dictionary, and the clients machine had no plugins installed.

        Maybe the difference is you kill firefox and restart it every day. I leave it running days at a time.
      • Leave it running for more than a day. I don't have any plugins installed and it will eat over 500 MB of RAM with less than 10 tabs opened. They don't even have to be intensive (gmail / school webmail / google news / slashdot / digg / slashdot / etc ). The machine can take it - modern dual core with 2 gigs of RAM - but still, the browser shouldn't need 500 megs of RAM to do that, theres a flaw somewhere in the design.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Skater ( 41976 )
          Can I ask why you leave it run for so long? Do you leave the lights and television on in your house when you aren't using them? Do you complain if the car you're driving runs out of gas after running for dozens of hours?

          Have you done similar tests on IE, Konqueror, Opera, etc.? How do they stand up over several days of browsing?

          Now that I know this memory leak takes DAYS to show up, I'm actually glad the Moz developers are working on real issues...sure, they can fix them as they find them, but I'm glad t
    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:24PM (#16661487) Homepage Journal
      Why didn't you fix Firefox's single huge glaring flaw, the memory leak that makes it practically unusable?

      I'm going to ignore the "practically unusable" part, since there are plenty of people who somehow manage to use it anyway without problems, but you seem to be under the mistaken impression that memory issues are one huge flaw. They're not. They're a bunch of tiny flaws that add up together. It's not like they can go in, fix one bug, and free up half the memory. They have to track down a whole bunch of these things and fix each of them.

      If you look at the release notes, nearly every 1.5.0.x release has fixed some memory leaks. 2.0 has fixed a bunch more. They still have more to go, but it's not as if they sat down and said, "Let's ignore the memory leak."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jester99 ( 23135 )
        nearly every 1.5.0.x release has fixed some memory leaks. 2.0 has fixed a bunch more. They still have more to go, but it's not as if they sat down and said, "Let's ignore the memory leak."

        As an add-on: Is there a reason Firefox does not just use a garbage collection library to free up memory that is missed by the explicit delete operations?

  • Well, how about (Score:2, Interesting)

    by also-rr ( 980579 )
    If Microsoft were to GPL Internet Explorer (warning: suspension of disbelif required) why would you carry on developing Firefox/Gecko?
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )
      Security? It's easier to start with something that's already halfway there than learn about a whole new Netscapesque spaghetti-ball of code.
    • If MS OSed IE, you'd be getting 3-4 new e-mails from Secunia every hour. That would KILL the IE market entirely.
    • This question is useless, it's too bad I don't have mod points. This is the kind of crap we bitch about being posted as a story. It's not going to happen, so why not ask a question that matters?
  • Can we expect just as much doublespeak and question avoidance as was given to us in the IE guy's interview?
  • Step Child (Score:2, Insightful)

    by towsonu2003 ( 928663 )
    Firefox seems to work faster and more stable on Windows and slower and more buggy on Linux. This has been increasingly so especially after it has become more and more popular. And the situation did not change with the release of 2.0...

    Why do you think this is happening? Do you lack developers who use / know / deal with Linux; is it because something is wrong with Linux; or is it because there are more people out there using Windows?

    • I'm not going to try to impinge on your right to ask this question, but I was wondering if this question was based on anything more than anecdotal evidence. The reason I'm wondering this is that, in my experience, Firefox is as stable and fast on Linux as it is anywhere, and so I don't know whether to think this is just my anecdotal evidence vs. yours, or whether there are problems I'm not informed about.

    • Name one bug (id on bugzilla) that affects you and only works on Linux?
  • Future? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:52PM (#16660829) Homepage
    What does the long-term future have in store for Firefox? Is the web browser going to become more feature rich, or is the Mozilla team going to aim at keeping Firefox very minimalist and optimized? If the former, what features do you think will help advance the user experience of the web? If the latter, how will you differentiate Firefox from its competitors and maintain the brand in absence of flashy new features?
  • Memory leak? (Score:2, Informative)

    by benplaut ( 993145 )
    There has been a rather glaring memory leak since the Firebird days; it's not as bad today, but it's definately sill there. Is the problem found, waiting to be fixed, or can we expect just marginal improvements in Firefox 3?
  • Tackling The DOM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by x3nos ( 773066 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:53PM (#16660851)
    With the most recent releases of FF 2.0 and IE7 almost simultaneously, from a person who does QA for a web deliverable software company, trying to debug and locate the source of inconsistencies in the way that FF 2.0 and IE7 handles DOM - what steps is the Mozilla foundation taking to help blaze the trail for some kind of standardization in DOM? I realize that IE has its own version of DOM, but is there hope that 1) Mozilla will better respond to erratic DOM programming from those that develop for IE or that 2) Mozilla will somehow influence the Microsoft camp to come over to standards?
  • Firefox Features (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eideewt ( 603267 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:55PM (#16660893)
    Firefox was created partly as an alternative to the bloated Mozilla suite. Now as Firefox matures, it too is gaining features. While all of them are fairly useful, some, such as spell check, web feed previews, and session restoration, might be better implemented as extensions. Firefox is still a fairly lightweight browser, and I appreciate Firefox 2.0's improved response speed, but I still worry that Firefox is becoming the kind of software that I hate.

    How committed is the team to keeping Firefox's core as small as possible, and what, if any, features might be turned into extensions in the future?
    • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
      Oops. I also meant to mention anti-phishing as something that might should be an extension.
    • by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:08PM (#16661169)
      As an add on to that question, since you can distribute extensions with the installer, why not just make these "official" extensions rather than building them into the app? Then people could easily switch them off or substitute third party ones (think tab management).

      You've created a great extension management system, yet aren't using it yourselves.
    • by Myopic ( 18616 )
      I am not Mr. Beard, but I hope his answer to this question is that Firefox 1.0 continues to exist, and still runs just fine, and if that's the version of Firefox that you like the best, then it is silly for you to use 2.0. Whatever version has the features you want, you can use that version. And, of course, a team could even make a stripped-down branch of the browser, too.
      • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
        I certainly hope not, since that would be a terrible answer. While Firefox 1.0 does have admirable lightness, it also misses many things. I don't recall it ever running as well as FF 2.0 does, it has minimal or no SVG support, and it doesn't provide client side storage, to name a few. All of these are enhancements that I do want, and do believe should be part of the core browser. When I ask for a lightweight browser, I'm not asking for an out-of-date browser.
  • Add In Validation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jarhead1972 ( 667612 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:56PM (#16660919) Journal

    Does FF worry that an unscrupulous add-on developer could produce what could be a click-fraud capable bot net hidden in an add-on that could be promoted and distributed by FF team? What steps are taken to prevent it given the add-ons are no signed or hosted by FF?


  • by merc ( 115854 ) <> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:59PM (#16660959) Homepage
    I'm sure you'll see a lot of tongue-in-cheek questions here about the recent IE team cake--but in all seriousness do you think Microsoft was sending any message, subtle or not, with their gift? Was the cake a gesture of altruism or do you think they were telling Firefox not to forget that they are a competing member of a browser war?

    How do Firefox members believe they are perceived by the "competition"?
  • I am one of those people who use firefox because it is better; I really don't care 2 cents about MS wars and open source. I use fire fox because of four features, tabs, save all bookmarks to folder, cntrl+ , and clear private features.
    Most of my friends are the same.
    So, I, and I assume most of your users, have zero loyalty to firefox - or IE; that is the way consumers are, they are awful things to have as customers (and that is why in the real world, contrary to all the biz school bs, the 1st thing any busi
  • Old Bugs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:00PM (#16660983)
    Has the Mozilla team considered adopting timeframes to the resolution of bugs, no matter what the severity. I've seen bugs on Bugzilla that while minor, have been open since before the browser was named Firefox, some without any comment besides the initial confirmation they exist. Why do issues stay unaddressed after multiple major releases?
  • Add-Ons vs Built-In (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:00PM (#16661001) Homepage Journal
    Many of us first switched to Firefox because it was so much smaller and faster than Internet Explorer. In fact, much of the early progress was directed at removing unnecessary code. Now it seems as though Firefox is following in the steps of Netscape Navigator by including many more features, some which everyone will use (spell check) and some which many may not (better RSS handling). The result is a larger download.

    How does the Firefox team choose which features are going to be included and which ones should be left as add-ons? From a marketing aspect, is it possible to promote a product for being small and compact, or is a long feature list necessary?
  • What are the top priorities for the next Firefox release? Will there be an attempt to add any new features in IE 7 to Firefox? Will standards compliance come first? Or will security be the main focus as Firefox becomes more widely adopted?
  • I've noticed that more and more preferences get taken out of the dialog with every release and they can be changed only through about:config. I can understand that you wouldn't want to crowd the dialog and confuse the users too much, but do you ever go back and review all those options and put back in the dialog some of the most used ones?
  • by Andrew Kismet ( 955764 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:04PM (#16661101)
    The Tab Mix Plus extension is widely considered to be greatly enhancing to any Firefox experience, alongside extensions like AdBlock Plus and All-In-One Gestures (and similar gesture extensions). Are these 3 features - enhanced tab manager, advert blocker, and gestures - going to be included in the initial Firefox package at any point?

    And along the same lines, what would you rather do - streamline Firefox by removing features and making them optional add-ons, or enhance Firefox by building in more features which can be enabled and disabled without the need for extra installations?

    I know I'm not meant to ask multiple questions, but it's all on the same theme - would you consider creating two major download versions for Firefox, one which is "barebones" and the other preloaded with the most popular extensions?
  • There have been several things that FireFox (or FireFox fans) have done to promote the browser; some rather mundane, such as purchasing ad space in a newspaper, while others have been unique and interesting, such as the FireFox "crop circle" [].

    Aside from word of mouth, what methods of advertising and promotion seem to help the most? Do you ever notice a significant increase in downloads after an advertising campaign? What are your future plans for promoting FireFox, and what weird ideas have people come up wi
  • I have posted a question [] for the IE interview and ask you, what keeps you from fully implementing the CSS 2.1 standard in FF 2? Granted, you adhere to the spec much better than IE, but this is not justification enough to not follow.

    Håkon Wium Lie's response [] about IE not following spec is that it is not in their best interests as a monopoly to do so. MS's response [] to this question revolves around priority. What priority is standards compliance to Mozilla? Also, what other things do you think hind

  • The question: What is Mozilla planning to do about supporting current and future design strategies and technologies such as SVG (I know it partially works/is partially in the pipeline), embedded XML support, proportional table rendering, and though I despise them, ActiveX Controls? In other words, what is Mozilla doing to incorporate more support than its competitors?

    The rationale: If FF supported a greater number of standards, technologies, and design paradigms than its competitors, I can only imagine it
  • Trademark nonsense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by littlem ( 807099 )
    Do you believe that forcing Debian to rename the high-quality patched version of Firefox that they will distribute in Etch, conforming to the FHS and generally forming a harmonious part of a distribution renowned for its stability, and with security fixes to be backported long after Mozilla have abandoned that version to the wolves, will be good for the Firefox brand?
  • Good afternoon Mr. Beard,

    Thanks for taking the time out to field questions from the /. crowd.

    1. What is Mozilla's direction with regards to implementing out-of-the-box email security with Thunderbird? Granted, there are extensions like Enigmail [] that add the functionality after the fact. However, the average user may not be aware of such an extension, or have the knowledge to use it. Perhaps your company could work closely with the folks at GnuPG [] to include such a functionality into Thunderbird (alo
  • What does the Firefox team feel is more important to the future of Firefox: adding features or fixing bugs? I ask because the old memory leaks still aren't gone and the problem with sometimes being unable to enter anything into text boxes, including the URL and search boxes, still has not been fixed. Should we just get used to Firefox becoming more and more buggy over time, until it becomes the new Mozilla and someone else strips out the rendering engine and start over? And as a Firefox evangelist, how am I
  • Would it be possible to permanently remove one developer's commit access (i.e. knock off a hostage) each day until the horrendously annoying freeze bug that I've experienced only since updating to 2.0 is fixed?

    Also, is there a place that we can send a box of chocolates to the person(s) responsible for the new UI widgets and text box spell checking? I 3 those changes.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:39PM (#16661759) Homepage Journal
    Thunderbird, as a companion to Firefox, seems to be getting the "also-ran" treatment. Releases tend to trail Firefox releases by weeks or months, and there seems to be very little promotion or marketing.

    Do you expect the influx of Eudora developers to change this? Are there any plans for more coordination between Firefox and Thunderbird in terms of scheduling, marketing and promotion?
  • What happened to Sunbird? I mean Mozilla Firefox is mature and the more you mess it up by innovation (see Netscape user interface) the more problems we get. Does Mozilla really care about the other tools as part of the family: Sunbird, KompoZer, ...
  • Chris,

    I've been a fan of Firefox since 0.8... I'm typing this in Firefox for Windows under WinXP Pro. It's been running since first thing this morning, and according to the task manager, it is currently utilizing 114MB of memory. What's being done about the rampant memory usage in Firefox? I know of the rendering debate and memory usage. Can't there be some middle ground on memory collection to keep a 6MB file download from consuming now 115MB of RAM?

    • It uses three to four times as much absolute RAM as konqueror, with far more resident and far less shared with other apps.

      This seems to be a general problem with gtk/gnome based applications, but how come the Qt/KDE guys are so much more efficient?

      p.s. I'm typing this in Konqueror rather than Firefox simply because KDE+Konqueror is faster and lighter than Gnome+Firefox.

  • How do you support yourself making free software?
  • What drove you to so drastically change the tab UI without providing a simple way to customize it? I can't stand the new UI coupled with a lack of options in FF 2.0! The multiple "close tab" buttons are definitely making it harder to browse in my usual manner, and the tab scrolling is very frustrating. Why not allow users to open a new tab bar directly below the original instead of forcing the user to click a tiny arrow to scroll?

    Like many people, I've been using various tab-management extensions (e.g. TabB
    • by Trillan ( 597339 )
      Seems like your question ought to be addressed to those plugin developers: "Why haven't you created a simple way to turn off what FIrefox 2 does yet?"
  • Is firefox ever going to get a file upload progress bar?
  • by oscartheduck ( 866357 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:47PM (#16661953)
    As reported on Slashdot, Microsoft invited the Firefox team over to the headquarters to discuss compatibility with Windows Vista. Did you learn enough about Vista to be able to offer a significantly better experience on that OS?
  • Crashing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpaceAdmiral ( 869318 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:50PM (#16662005) Homepage
    Since upgrading to FF2, Firefox has gone from crashing approximately "never" to crashing approximately "always." It literally freezes 4 or 5 times per day on me. I've read that this is an iFrame/JavaScript issue and that engineers are aware of it and working on it, but my question is: How could you release something this buggy?
  • Debian Firefox Question Asked of Chris and Mike. No Response yet. The solution in my mind is a simple no-brainer. Firefox's debian package maintainer should work for Mozilla. Mozilla keeps patches in house, approves for quality and can release FireFox under its own name in the debian format. Why is this not a viable option? Anyone? Alternative: FirefoxD, Problem Solved, No Splitting up brand Name Recognition like the current IceWeasel solution, No Trademark Problem. Why is this not a viable option? Ma
  • What are the biggest differences, from a user's perspective?
  • Why does it take soooo many years to implement display:inline-block? (bug #9458 since 1999)

  • Is there any chance of getting native-looking controls in forms? Even as of 2.0 forms under Linux still have the Windows 98-ish look to them.
  • I've roasted many marshmallows on the browser flamewars. They can be fun to watch, but not too enlightening.

    One question that I'd like to hear an educated answer to is what you think Firefox's (and mozilla's) greatest innovations are. What are your best additions to the field, and which are simply refined from other browsers?

    Also, the spell checker in FF2 detects suxx0rs and roxx0rs as real words. Should I try to use them more? ;P
  • I have no idea how I keep triggering this thing, but having the inline search pop up every time time the apostrophe key is pressed is mildly frustrating. Please remove this feature.
  • There are a hundred HTTP-derived protocols - SHTTP is not the same as HTTPS, for example.

    There are a thousand markup languages, covering everything from geometric data to maths equations to typesetting to fonts. (BLOBs seem to defeat the whole purpose of an ASCII-driven markup system, IMHO.)

    There are a million capabilities that couldn't be done as extensions (multicast mosaic was a definite curiosity and only touched the outer fringes of what's possible).

    There are a billion ways that any browser could be tw
  • My ecommerce software, my BBS software, as well as many other web-based programs out there use Alt+S to quickly save a page after editing. In FF2, I just the history page when I do that. What's the deal? Is that configurable?
  • Passing the acid2 test [] would ensure that Firefox is compliant with all of today's meaningful web standards. Why doesn't the development team buckle down and say this is priority for future versions of Firefox?
  • Firefox and Macs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @03:52PM (#16663029) Homepage
    When will Firefox get some much needed love on Mac OS X? The toolbars look hideous, the form widgets don't look aqua like, and there is no integration into OS X services (like the dictionary). Plus there is always a need for speed improvements.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Quit whinging about the look on Mac OS X. Firefox has a great theming system, and someone has already done the work to make it look good on Mac OS X: []

      GrApple (Eos Pro) theme is seriously hot. Windows and Linux users ought to be jealous.

  • Why do Firefox use so much RAM? After a few minutes of surfing, Firefox is likely to use about 70MB. After a few days, 200MB. And when I close pages containing e.g. media or lots of text, then Firefox do not clean up RAM. It's really annoying, especially on a shared system, since other users complain on memory usage. On Windows Terminal Server, Internet Explorer really stand-out by using shared memory compared to this awful memory-code.
  • by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @06:50PM (#16665869) Homepage
    Recently, it has been confirmed that the Debian Project will be stripping out Mozilla Foundation trademarks such as Firefox and Mozilla from their main repository when Etch is released, renaming the "firefox" package to "iceweasel." What are your thoughts on the usage of such trademarks, and do you have any comments on the non-free permissions of the Mozilla Foundation's trademarks and artwork?

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor