Skip to main content

Benjamin Oakes

Photo of Ben Oakes

Hi, I'm Ben Oakes and this is my geek blog. Currently, I'm a Ruby/JavaScript Developer at Continuity Control. 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.


Sleeping longer during business hours

by Ben

This is just a simple trick to sleep longer during business hours. Useful if there’s a long running task that needs to avoid hammering a resource (e.g. a shared database) during the day, but not during the night.

sleep (7..18).include?( ? 3 : 0

The Internet’s Telltale Heartbleed

by Ben

The Internet's Telltale Heartbleed : The New Yorker.

This is by far one of the most approachable and accurate descriptions of Heartbleed that I’ve seen. Definitely worth reading if you keep wondering what this thing is.

Vegetable Gardener Videos

by Ben

Video: Planting Out – Vegetable Gardener Videos.

I’m getting ready to move some plants I started inside out to our yard, so this video was helpful. They have a lot of good information in their video series. Here’s a quick list:

Also, it looks like they’re somewhere in southern Connecticut, which was a funny coincidence, since I used to live there.

First Look – AWS WorkSpaces

by Ben

First Look – AWS WorkSpace.

My comment:

I keep wondering if they’ll try a Linux-based desktop for certain use cases. It could be offered for a cheaper price, perhaps.

Hard to say if it would happen, but it would fit in with Amazon’s previous AWS offerings. Definitely good to start with Windows, however.

The New Rubygems Index Format

by Ben

The New Rubygems Index Format.

Should hopefully improve Rubygems installation time. I’m a bit amazed Marshal was used for so long.

Multi-line Memoization

by Ben

Multi-line Memoization.

Memoizing with Ruby’s ||= is ugly when there’s more than one line of code.  The kind folks over at Viget Labs shared this trick:

def foo
  @foo ||= begin
    arg1 = expensive_method_1
    arg2 = expensive_method_2
    expensive_method_3(arg1, arg2)

How did I not already know about this? What a readable solution.

What happens to older developers?

by Ben

Ask HN: What happens to older developers? | Hacker News.

(via Mark Scully)

Interesting topic, but way too many of the comments focus on salaries. However, I think that’s mostly because of a comment about $300K/yr being a bad salary cap that set off a bunch of replies (and for good reason). Let’s just say I’m very happy to be in Iowa City.

Anyway, just a reminder to myself to focus on deeper knowledge rather than a breadth of knowledge, etc.

HTML datalist Tag

by Ben

HTML datalist Tag.

The <datalist> tag specifies a list of pre-defined options for an <input> element.

The <datalist> tag is used to provide an “autocomplete” feature on <input> elements. Users will see a drop-down list of pre-defined options as they input data.

Use the <input> element’s list attribute to bind it together with a <datalist> element.

This Isn’t Capitalism — It’s Growthism, and It’s Bad for Us

by Ben

This Isn't Capitalism — It's Growthism, and It's Bad for Us – Umair Haque – Harvard Business Review.

While I don’t agree with all the points, I can definitely agree that our incarnation of capitalism optimizes for growth, leaving everything else behind. That can be a problem for the environment, the poor, and any other economic element that doesn’t have a voice in a growth-centric economy. Is capitalism evil? That depends on your definition. Human nature notwithstanding, I would say that its incentive structure promotes some problems.

Is it nice that in 2014 we all have lots of affordable gadgets? In some ways. Does it make us better people? The author, Umair Haque, would seem to argue a flat “no”. From my perspective, the truth has more shades of gray to it.

My big question at the end of the article: if capitalism (or “growthism”) is broken, can it be fixed? If it’s not broken, but just needs some adjustments, what should come next?

New features in iOS 8

by Ben

iOS 8 to gain at least five new first-party apps | ZDNet.

iOS 8: Apple works to further push iCloud as the future of the file system.

Like Jason O’Grady, I have a list of iOS features on my wishlist that could keep me on the platform past iOS 7.1.

Apple made changes in iOS 7 which addressed my earlier criticisms, namely:

Maybe iOS 8 will address some of my concerns with iOS as well. I’ve divided my list into categories:




Very unlikely:

Unfortunately, most of my wishlist is unlikely to be addressed in iOS 8. Although I’ve been invested in iOS since 2008 (back at version 2), my impression is that the only way to get what’s on my wishlist would be to switch to another platform. I’m curious to see what iOS 8 brings in June.