jason harris 

On the cusp of a phase transition

Friday, 19 September 2008
This is a big day for me: after 15 years, my last day as an astronomer. After three years of trying, I wasn't able to get a faculty job, so this year I started applying for non-academic positions. Read More

Highlighting Akarsh Simha's GSoC work

Monday, 4 August 2008
Akarsh Simha is pursuing a very ambitious project for Google Summer of Code 2008: He's increasing the number of stars displayed by KStars by a factor of 10 (from 130,000 to over 1 million), without having a negative impact on the performance of the program. Read More

My SUSE curse continues

Tuesday, 22 July 2008
I've never been able to successfully run SUSE or openSUSE, on any of my machines. I don't understand why; it just doesn't work. My latest attempt was to download and burn the openSUSE KDE Four Live CD, last night. Read More


Friday, 27 June 2008
I got some good comments on my last post. Let me try to clarify what I was trying to say, because I don't want to be misunderstood as being denigrating toward users: Read More

We need contributors

Friday, 27 June 2008
Have to say, I totally agree with the sentiments expressed by Troy. KDE, like many other open-source projects, doesn't really need users at all, whether they are poisonous or not. What we need are contributors: that's the life-blood of our community, what keeps KDE growing and evolving. Read More

KStars GSoC student: Akarsh Simha!

Thursday, 24 April 2008
I'd like to introduce Akarsh Simha, who was awarded a GSoC this year to work on KStars. His project is entitled "Optimising loading and painting of stars in KStars", and when it is successfully completed, KStars will finally have the ability to display millions of stars, without adversely affecting the programs interactive responsiveness. Read More

Harris *Vivian = new Harris();

Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Say hello to our new baby daughter, Vivian: She was born on Feb 25th. Her middle name is QiHui, which is Mandarin for "bright angel". Haiyin and I are very happy, and not a little tired! Read More

I can never install openSUSE

Friday, 25 January 2008
I've tried before, the installer always fails for me. But, I'm getting fed up with Gentoo (finally), so I decided to give it another try. Surely this time would be better. Read More

My First KDE event

Sunday, 20 January 2008
Attending the KDE4 Release Event has been insanely great. It's so good to finally meet people I've only known via email and IRC. We have an incredible community, and now I feel much closer to it than I did before. Read More

Time to open the Branch

Saturday, 12 January 2008
With the release of KDE 4.0, it's time to start maintaining both trunk and branch versions of the code, so that bugfixes can be backported to the branch. If you use the cs/cb/cmakekde scripts to manage your build environment, it's fairly easy to switch the context of these between branch and trunk. Read More


Thursday, 13 December 2007
I posted this to k-c-d a couple days ago, but it generated zero response, so I thought I'd post it to the ol' blog in case any non k-c-d types might be interested. Read More

KDE4 "active" colors, and resizing a dialog

Friday, 16 November 2007
I need help on some things which ought to be trivial. I'm working on the KStars Observing List tool, depicted here: Ain't it pretty? The first trouble arises if the TableView listing the objects loses input focus. Read More

KStars Image Challenge

Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Do you want to help improve KStars, but don't want to do programming or debugging? Do you like pretty pictures? Over at the KStars Community Forums, I have announced the KStars Image Challenge. Read More

Comet Holmes screenie

Wednesday, 31 October 2007
As blogged by Bart Coppens, there's currently a naked-eye comet gracing northern-hemisphere skies: comet Holmes. It's in KStars, but you should update the ephemerides with Get New Stuff (Ctrl+D), or the position will be way off. Read More

KStars has entered BugKill mode for 4.0

Thursday, 27 September 2007
Howdy KStars fans, Just a quick note to let you know that we are now in BugKill mode: no more new features for 4.0, just polishing and bugfixes. Here's what KStars looks like these days: Read More

Snow-Encrusted Cacti

Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Every five years or so, it snows in Tucson. We got our latest taste last Sunday: (click for more photos) I grew up in Illinois, where the winters were long and relatively harsh. Read More

Porting to KDE4: It's time!

Tuesday, 12 December 2006
A recent story on the Dot sparked a conversation about which branch KDE application developers should be developing against (3.5 or 4.0). My usual stance on what developers "should" be doing is that they should do whatever they like. Read More


Saturday, 30 September 2006
Something like 9 years ago, when I was a young grad student, I created a web page that was, at the time, the internet's only repository of spaceship images (thanks wayback machine! Read More

The Dot once again reveals the icky among us

Thursday, 31 August 2006
Why is it that whenever a Dot story features one of our female contributors, people feel the need to embarass themselves (and the rest of us) with pathetic and demeaning comments? Read More

Hooray QWidgetAction!

Friday, 7 July 2006
With Qt-4.2, we finally get back the flexbility of adding arbitrary widgets to action containers like toolbars and menus, via the new QWidgetAction class. For QToolbar, there was already a workaround for this in the addWidget() function, but there was no way to add a widget to a menu. Read More

I love the desert

Tuesday, 9 May 2006
I live in Tucson, Arizona, in the heart of the Sonoran desert, among the Saguaro and Javelina. I love it here; the desert has a unique kind of beauty: vast, sparse, ancient, and enduring. Read More

At last! Focus follows mind

Tuesday, 14 March 2006
Ever since Matthias Ettrich joked about it in the early history of the KDE project, focus-follows-mind has been a recurring meme in the KDE lexicon. Well, it looks like it's finally coming! Read More

KStars Community Forums

Friday, 3 March 2006
One of our users suggested that it would be useful to have some mechanism by which members of the KStars user community could meet and interact, either a mailing list or a web forum. Read More

First look at KStars under KDE4

Sunday, 29 January 2006
I've spent the last few months on the behind-the-scenes architecture of KStars. Since the port to KDE4 was going to be a major overhaul for us anyway, we decided to simultaneously do a major refactoring of how the data catalogs are represented in KStars. Read More

My nethack monster

Thursday, 26 January 2006
If I was a nethack monster, I would be: ......| ..%d+.| ......| a little dog: Loyal. Friendly. Housebroken. Nice doggie. Which NetHack Monster Are You?

Need help using custom widgets in Qt4 designer

Friday, 2 December 2005
Sorry for the slight abuse of the blogosphere, but I did post this request (twice) on kde-devel, and got no replies. I'm having trouble getting my custom widgets working in Qt4 designer; read on if you think you might be able to help, or if you want to learn more about how to use custom widgets in the new designer. Read More

An arid day in the Atacama

Wednesday, 23 November 2005
Yes, that's right, I am once again at my favorite telescope in northern Chile. Getting a metric assload of data, which should keep me busy for a while. Normally, I would say at this point that it's nice to get away from winter and experience a summery Southern November, but I happen to live in Tucson, AZ, so I am actually missing the best weather of the year! Read More

Back to Gentoo!

Friday, 28 October 2005
Update from my last post: After failing to install the "easy" distros (Suse 10.0 and Kubuntu), I decided to install Gentoo again. Went flawlessly, and I'm loving emerge. Now, why did I ever want to try another distro? Read More

Install Hell

Sunday, 16 October 2005
I finally decided to replace my sick hard drive, which had been hobbling along for months. I decided to take this as an opportunity to try out the new SUSE 10. Read More

Custom Catalogs in KStars

Saturday, 4 June 2005
For a long time, KStars had a non-functional "Add Catalog" button in its configuration window. Now, it finally works: You can specify what data fields are present in the catalog, and in what order. Read More

KStars: new details window

Thursday, 10 March 2005
Finally, something worth blogging in KStars-land: The Object Details window is getting a facelift. Before and after: The layout is much less cluttered, and all of the data fields now use kde:KActiveLabel, so the text can be copy/pasted with the mouse. Read More

I'm not going to make it...

Saturday, 31 July 2004
Whenever there's a KDE release, I like to draw up a "QA list" for KStars that essentially lists all of the program's expected behaviors (it's quite a long list). I then go through and systematically check each one. Read More

OS X: usability Xanadu?

Monday, 17 May 2004
Ok, so I got a new PowerBook recently. I was really excited about OS X from the little I'd seen of it looking over people's shoulders. Finally, I would taste humankind's highest achievement in usability and user-friendliness! Read More

Seeking help for bug #65429

Monday, 27 October 2003
The skinny: two people have reported that KStars will not compile for them; both are using Redhat 9 and gcc 3.2.2. The error message is: lx200classic.cpp:29: structure `eqNum' with uninitialized const members Read More

Diving into the OpenGL pool...

Thursday, 2 October 2003
So, does anyone know any good resources for OpenGL programming under KDE? I've started looking at the Qt OpenGL examples, and that seems straightforward enough. However, Someone at the dot told me about the Coin project, which is an implementation of SGI's high-level Open Inventor API for OpenGL. Read More

mailing list archive

Tuesday, 23 September 2003
so after weeks of flakiness with our sourceforge mailing list, I finally requested a kstars-devel@kde.org mailing list, which we have been happily using for a few weeks now. It's great! Read More

confused about Qt QPL/GPL license

Tuesday, 26 August 2003
(EDIT: changed the title. Thanks for the discussion, I am less confused now :) ) How many of you, when confronted with the Qt licensing option (during the 'configure' step of the compile) select the GPL as your Qt/X11 license? Read More

greetings from Chile

Friday, 8 August 2003
I am on the last night of a 4-night observing run at the Magellan 6.5-m telescope, and KStars has been my lovely-and-talented observing assistant for the whole run. It's great to be on a mountain again; prior to this, I hadn't been observing at all in 3 years. Read More

Apologies to the southern hemisphere

Wednesday, 30 July 2003
I recently noticed that handling of "Daylight Savings Time" (a.k.a. "Summer Time") did not work for any southern-hemisphere locations in KStars. I fixed it in HEAD and 3_1_BRANCH yesterday, a bit too late for 3. Read More

is it Free enough?

Monday, 21 July 2003
We recently had a bit of drama on the kde-edu-devel mailing list. It seems that Debian decided that KStars was not quite Free enough, because some of the images we use are used with permission, and the catalog files are not unambiguously in the public domain. Read More

kstars status

Monday, 21 July 2003
For my first post, I thought I would give a short heads up on recent activity in KStars. Jasem Mutlaq recently added telescope control to KStars, which is just fantastic. Definitely has been one of our most-requested features. Read More

new KDE3 dev book in the works!

Monday, 21 July 2003
Did you hear that Ralf Nolden is starting work on a new KDE3 development book? Wahoo! It's going to be under the FDL, natch. Following Holger's suggestion that the book be a constantly updated guide to everything KDE, I propose it be titled "The KDEnomicon" :)