Richard Clarke: Against All Enemies

by Ulf on November 9th, 2008

Richard Clarke: Against All EnemiesThis insider’s account of the USA‘s fight against terrorism from the Reagan administration until after 9/11 makes for gripping reading. Although Clarke apparently got a number of facts wrong, the big picture seems to be portrayed correctly. Some parts are heavily disputed, though, like the connection of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to Iraq, and whether the Clinton and Bush Jr. administration dealt adequately with al Qaeda (search online for Clarke/Mylroie to find details). But then, Clarke paints a positive image of Clinton’s actions, and a negative one of Bush Jr.’s actions, while Mylroie sees it just the other way around -and has her own books to sell- so some disagreement is to be expected.


Got myself a new bookshelf

by Map on September 10th, 2008


I hate twitter. I hate the idea of twitter. I don’t want to read about how some friend of mine just returned from his/her trip to bathroom and how it all went. And most of us aren’t visited by great ideas worth to be shared with the rest of mankind every 30 minutes. I know I am not. The only thing I am interested to know every 30 minutes is what my friends are reading, what page they are on and what they think about the book at this very moment. :-)

GoodReads’ online book warehouse got it pretty close to what my dream book warehouse looks like. It comes with pre-installed “read”, “currently reading” and “to read” shelves, which is how I naturally sort my books. It allows you to rate your books and to post quick comments, and here they got it right again. To write a full-blown book review is time-consuming and I often lack will power to finish mine, or even to start them. A bookshelf so inviting to “quick-and-dirty” style of book reviews instantly won me over. Sometimes the book is so uninspiring, so all I want to do is to give it 1 star and to add “I wonder why it is even written”. Sometimes I want to keep a few quotes in hope that some day I will add some profound comments to them.

Thomas Paul apparently types away a couple of pages for every book he reads, but who else can do it? For the rest of us there is GoodReads.

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.


Review of JavaFX Script by James L. Weaver

by Ulf on September 4th, 2008

JavaFX Script („JavaFX“ henceforth) is a new way to develop client-side Java GUI applications, comprised of a more declarative code syntax, and some new ways to couple behavior to code. That being the case, it (and by extension, this book) has two audiences: developers proficient in Java who want to learn about JavaFX, and web developers interested in building rich client applications who may not know much (or any) Java.


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.