On the cusp of a phase transition

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. Those applications were basically all dead ends, which has been pretty frustrating.


Highlighting Akarsh Simha's GSoC work

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. James Bowlin and I are his co-mentors in this project. James and Akarsh spent the pre-coding SoC period hashing out the code architecture required for this effort, which allowed Akarsh to hit the ground running when he started to code.


My SUSE curse continues

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.

Download ISO. Verify checksum. Burn ISO. Reboot machine. Wait several minutes (more than five) for the boot process.....

Finally! I was greeted by the functional, friendly and green openSUSE KDE4 desktop. Woohoo, right?



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:

Make something beautiful, and make it available. The users will come, and from the users, contributors will rise. That's what sustains a project like KDE. The users are not the end goal, IMO, but they are an important part of the feedback cycle that gives us a healthy and active community of contributors.


We need contributors

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. To the extent that users can and do become contributors, I will grant that we need a userbase as a pool of potential future contributors.


KStars GSoC student: Akarsh Simha!

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.


Harris *Vivian = new Harris();

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!

Some day, I will have time to work on KStars again...but it probably won't be soon!


I can never install openSUSE

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...

Boot from the DVD, the progress bar on the green screen gets to around 30% and just sits there. Hard-boot. Try again, press Esc to see log messages. It's hanging on: "braille.4.1 alva read data".

Search opensuse forums and mailing lists...nothing.
Search google...nothing.

What the heck? It's not like I have bizarre hardware. I'm just cursed I suppose :P


My First KDE event

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.

Some random bits:


Time to open the Branch

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.

I am using the following scripts (I have trunk in $HOME/kde/src and branch in $HOME/kde/src_4.0):