Outstanding Talk by Kent Beck

by Ulf on September 9th, 2008

I‘d like to recommend Kent Beck‘s keynote from this year‘s RailsConf to everybody interested in software development. Kent talks about his involvement with patterns, developer testing and extreme programming, how each came about, and what he thinks about the outcomes. An MP3 file and the presentation slides are available here, and a video feed (which helps tie together the slides and the talk) is here. The talk also touches on a range of other topics, such as architecture, Ruby, IDEs, technology adoption, marketing of ideas, and much else, and is a joy to listen to. The following are the books that get mentioned (and are thus implicitly recommended by Mr Beck). Christopher Alexander in particular has long been on my reading list; maybe this will actually coax me into reading him.

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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.

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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.

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