Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Charming hitmen on the loose In Bruges

by Ulf on July 25th, 2008

A couple of hitmen need to hide out for a while and are sent to Bruges. While one enjoys the sights of the medieval city, the other is looking for less exalted pleasures. Eventually, things become … more complicated, involving their boss, a dwarf, a couple of Canadian tourists, a couple of locals preying on tourists, romance, beer, a weapons dealer, a pregnant landlady and much else, not least beautiful pictures of the city. In the end, a surprising amount of humanity is on display, considering the profession of the protagonists. Not that all of them survive, mind you. Having seen images of the city for the first time, I’ve resolved to go there myself some day, so it’s a cinematic ad for the city as well.

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What does Sun know about how Java is used?

by Ulf on July 24th, 2008

John O’Conner -a Sun employee until recently- blogged about his Java experiences outside of Sun. He lists three things in particular that were news to him:

  1. Companies don’t always use the latest JDK for their flagship products.
  2. Teams like the Eclipse IDE.
  3. Java isn’t always the preferred rich client.

Frankly, I’m shocked that this is news to anyone, much less to a Sun employee who’s actively using Java.

What’s a good symbol to associate with?

by Ulf on July 24th, 2008

Much ado about Senator Obama in Berlin

Today Mr Obama is visiting Berlin, and as part of the visit he gives a public speech on … something. We don’t know yet what it’s about. All we know is that there has been a two-week-long brouhaha about where he could give the speech.


Fresh at the box office: CSN&Y / Déjà Vu

by Ulf on July 15th, 2008

CSN&Y Deja VuIn 2006, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young came together for yet another reunion tour, this time under the motto Freedom of Speech with a decidedly anti-war message. Although the protagonists are all in their 60s now, their fire, song and guitar playing is still almost what it was 40 years earlier. Musically, this is somewhere between the Neil Young captured on film in Year of the Horse and the one in Heart of Gold. Besides the music, the film also has interviews with the musicians, reactions of concert-goers (both positive and negative), and some footage of 60s/70s performances of CSN&Y at the height of the protests against the Vietnam war and the Kent State killings. The music may not be the best Young’s ever written -although some is quite good- but seeing the audience and media reactions, and hearing the band tell their point of view makes for a memorable concert/tour movie.

More info at

Fun Stuff

by Ulf on July 12th, 2008

I don’t like to email tons of people pointing out some fun or interesting web page I saw, so here’s some stuff I nonetheless want to plug to a wider audience (yeah, right, who am I kidding is reading this blog?).


Lonely Planet doesn’t just publish useful travel books, they also put out the occasional travelcast covering various and sundry locations: web site and RSS feed

German humor (yes, it exists) told live by Horst Evers -the funniest man in the universe, according to his publisher- every week: RSS feed


Jay Grandin made a lot of entertaining clips, including the widely watched How to Shower: Women vs. Men, and practical everyday advice like Pre-cut bagels suck.

Ernest Friedman-Hill brought the Tales Of Mere Existence by Lev Yilmaz to my attention, e.g. A typical conversation with my mom, Never Visit Your Girlfriend At Work, Procrastination and I have to get ready.

And there are numerous hilarious sketches by Rowan Atkinson, from before he became Mr Bean.

The Earth in pictures

by Ulf on July 9th, 2008

NASA being a public agency, it makes a lot of the pictures taken in space available to anyone who’s interested. The Earth Observatory is a site that collects many of these images, along with descriptions of what they show, and how what’s being pictured is changing over time. One neat feature of the site is the weekly email service that tells about new images added to the collection. Amongst this week’s additions were Algal Bloom along the Coast of China, Flooding in Des Moines, Iowa and Wild Fires Near Big Sur, California, but not all images relate to current events.

I find a lot of these images and their stories fascinating, and some just plain beautiful.

The new American embassy building in Berlin

by Ulf on July 5th, 2008

Yesterday the new American embassy building in Berlin was officially opened. The building has been a long time in the planning and making, but various security considerations have repeatedly led to postponements. Now that it‘s been built in the same spot where the USA had an embassy in the 1930s -a very rarefied spot at Pariser Platz, close to Brandenburger Tor- it has been variously described as functional, but uninspired. The comparison to the old Blücher Palais is interesting, but of course unfair – times have changed, and so have the ways of diplomacy. It‘s hard to say how much of that is due to said security constraints, but the building is certainly less adventurous than the nearby French and British embassies.


Growing a language

by Ulf on July 4th, 2008

Michael Ernest brought this video of a talk by Guy Steele (him of Scheme fame, for you SICP fans, but he’s now with Sun, working on Java) to my attention. It’s about languages that are too small, about why -when creating a language- neither a small nor a large one will do, and what to do about that. It’s also got a really nice twist to it around the 10 minute mark, where there’s an auditorium-sized “Aha!” effect. You won’t regret watching it: Guy Lewis Steele at OOPSLA ’98 (PostScript)

Shrinking a language

Ten years earlier Niklaus Wirth wrote From Modula to Oberon, in which he outlined why in that case the evolution from a language to its successor involved removing more language features than adding new ones. Since Pascal is mentioned in Steele’s talk as an example of a language that didn’t grow much, it’s interesting to see that both Modula and Oberon included a module facility that allowed them to grow seamlessly from the start.

Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus To Our House

by Ulf on July 3rd, 2008

From Bauhaus to Our House(This book review has been sitting in my Out box for a while. Finally I’ve got a place to publish it, and it puts the pressure on Map to publish her review of The Architecture of Happiness, which she promised to do if I wrote this one.)

Tom Wolfe does not like where American architecture has gone in the 20th century. It started out all right with Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and others, but according to Wolfe, it took an ugly turn in the 1920s with the arrival of the Bauhaus-influenced International Style, which evolved into what came to be known as Modern Architecture. Then it got much worse in the 1930s when the Bauhäusler themselves fled Europe and made the USA their new home. Led by Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, they had a profound influence on a generation of American architects, and their ideas dominated architectural thinking for the next 50 years.


First post!

by Ulf on July 3rd, 2008

You’re witnessing the birth of a new blog. Ah, the excitement, the adventure! I can almost hear the world holding its breath. Hmm … perhaps not. And it’s not really new, either – my co-host Map has had a blog under this name for years. Now she’s moved it here and has taken me on as a co-conspirator. We’re graciously hosted by Frank Carver, who has a prolific blog of his own. Thanks Frank! (We all know each other from JavaRanch, by the way.)

So who am I and what am I going to write about? Some of the basic facts about me can be found on my web site. My interests range far and wide, though, and I plan to write about stuff that didn’t have a place on my site. Anything goes, really. I’ve had interesting discussions with Map on any number of topics, and we hope to recreate that here in public, and be inspired by one another.

On with the show!