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Benjamin Oakes

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Hi, I'm Ben Oakes and this is my geek blog. Currently, I'm a Ruby/JavaScript Developer at Continuity. Previously, I was a Software Developer at Hedgeye, a Research Assistant in the Early Social Cognition Lab at Yale University and a student at the University of Iowa. I also organize ICRuby and OpenHack Iowa City, and previously organized NewHaven.rb. I have an amazing wife named Danielle Oakes.


Miscellaneous JavaScript Reading

by Ben

Some JavaScript reading I’ve been doing since Iowa Code Camp last week:

Android and iOS apps on Windows: What is Microsoft doing—and will it work?

by Ben

Android and iOS apps on Windows: What is Microsoft doing—and will it work? | Ars Technica.

The way Microsoft presented the Android and iOS support on stage last week wasn’t particularly encouraging. The way that Projects Astoria and Islandwood—the codenames for Android and iOS app support, respectively—were promoted in the keynote presentation, one might think that the Android and iOS support were pretty solid substitutes for the Universal Windows Apps that are native to Windows 10 on all the hardware form factors it will support. It seemed like porting apps from those platforms would be an effective alternative to any plans to develop native Windows applications.

This is pretty crazy: Windows will support Android and iOS applications through compatibility layers.  I don’t really see the iOS layer getting a lot of traction just because it takes a lot of work, but the strong Android support is going to further entrench Android as a platform you can deploy to almost anything (second only to HTML5).

Apple Is Rejecting Some Apps From The App Store For Declaring Pebble Watch Support

by Ben

Apple Is Rejecting Some Apps From The App Store For Declaring Pebble Watch Support – Things Don’t Look Good For Android Wear On iOS.

Remember that report that claimed Google was preparing to make the Android Wear platform compatible with iOS? Yeah, that might not go down as smoothly as you had hoped. There’s still no official word on Wear for iOS, but the latest news out of the Apple camp has disturbing implications. According to one developer over on the official Pebble Watch forum, Apple is rejecting apps from its App Store simply for mentioning Pebble wearable support.

Yikes. That’s a scary precedent and very clearly anticompetitive.

Iowa primed to be first in nation for driverless cars

by Ben

Iowa primed to be first in nation for driverless cars | TheGazette.

IOWA CITY — Iowa is well equipped to become the first state in the nation with a roadway certified for driverless cars, and researchers this week met with government and transportation officials to discuss the possibilities.

Mark Nolte from ICAD has been a big proponent of this, and it’s a lot more likely than you might initially think…

Google seeks $1 billion expansion of Council Bluffs, Iowa datacenter

by Ben

Google seeks $1 billion expansion of Council Bluffs center | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Google Inc. wants to expand its Council Bluffs data center spending an additional $1 billion and doubling the size of its staff to 70. […] Google’s total investment in Iowa will come to around $2 billion. […] Microsoft is spending about $2 billion to build two data centers in West Des Moines and Facebook has invested about $1 billion in two Altoona data centers.

It’s exciting that there’s lots of large datacenter growth in Iowa. I’d be interested in seeing a tour of these sometime.

How transit and bikes can pay for your home

by Ben

How transit & bikes paid for my home : TreeHugger.

In the latest report [on savings of transit vs car ownership], APTA comes up with a blended average of $9,238 per year, with a high of $15,873 per year in New York City (which also happens to be where the most people use public transit … by far). The estimated savings are based on many assumptions, of course, such as the price of gas and car maintenance, insurance, depreciation and finance charges, the price of parking, and the price of transit in the region. […] I dropped the car approximately 11 years ago. I haven’t lived in the cities APTA evaluates, and I haven’t closely tracked how much I would have spent if I had owned a car. But if we used an average of $9,500 a year, that would come to a savings of $104,500 [which is more than we paid for our condo].

We haven’t been in the exact same situation as the author, but our experience has definitely been that limiting our car usage and ownership has saved a huge amount of money. At least in the United States, there’s a huge amount of social pressure (in many forms) to own at least one car, but looking back I am very happy that we sold our second car when we did.

The case for a monolithic repository

by Ben

Gregory Szorc’s Digital Home | On Monolithic Repositories.
Gregory Szorc’s Digital Home | Notes from Facebook’s Developer Infrastructure at Scale F8 Talk.

I’ve seen a lot written about reasons why your organization should keep a monolithic repository instead of a collection of many smaller repositories, especially for internal code (non-OSS). I’ve had similar experiences to what is described in these posts.

And before you think “we’re getting too big for that,” keep in mind that these recommendations are coming out of big players like Facebook and Google.

15 Best Cities for Creative 20-Somethings Other Than New York

by Ben

15 Best Cities for Creative 20-Somethings Other Than New York.

Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in Iowa City draws hundreds of aspiring writers to earn MFAs to the Midwest. Thanks to historic alums, professors and visitors — literary legends from Dylan Thomas to Robert Frost have walked the campus — the UNESCO City of Literature has a boast-worthy past and present.

If you get tired of playing around with words, the Iowa Arts Festival and Iowa City Jazz Festival bring hundreds of local and national artists to Iowa City each year.

Although I might not be what the author had in mind, I definitely consider programming to be a creative endeavor.

You can now test Project Spartan, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer successor

by Ben

You can now test Project Spartan, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer successor | The Verge.

While Project Spartan is a successor to Internet Explorer, Microsoft is still planning to ship its “legacy engine” browser in some versions of Windows 10. The Verge understands that the software giant is currently evaluating a number of different ways to ship Internet Explorer in Windows 10 to those who require it, and that it will be primarily targeted at enterprise customers. Microsoft is not pinning Internet Explorer to the task bar or Start Menu in Windows 10, and Project Spartan will take over. Today’s preview includes that new behavior, and we hear that Internet Explorer could eventually become a Windows feature that you have to enable to get access to the old browser. Internet Explorer itself (the app) might not be fully dead just yet, but Microsoft is killing off the brand name in favor of a new name for Project Spartan, and the company says it’s the future of its browser efforts.

I’m hopeful that Microsoft’s “new” browser turns out well (though it’s surely based on some portion of the Internet Explorer codebase). However, it’s all for nothing if they don’t have a better update strategy than IE has. Chrome and Firefox get a huge amount of their user base onto new versions soon after they’re released, and I’d like to see Spartan do the same. Otherwise, we’ll just be dealing with old versions of Spartan in the future instead of old versions of IE.

Rep. Loebsack to Indiana businesses: Come to Iowa, a ‘more welcoming community’

by Ben

Rep. Loebsack to Indiana businesses: Come to Iowa, a ‘more welcoming community’ – Little Village.

In a sharp response to the “religious freedom” bill signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack released a statement this evening encouraging Indiana businesses to move to Iowa, citing “a more welcoming community.”