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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 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.


The Shut-In Economy

by Ben

The Shut-In Economy — Matter — Medium.

And that’s when I realized: the on-demand world isn’t about sharing at all. It’s about being served. This is an economy of shut-ins.

A fascinating read, though I would be happy to know that it’s exaggerated.

I often hope that the Internet can help solve many of the social problems that we have as a society, but the more I see of its actual effects, all of these “social” apps and services are anything but socially-minded. It’s important to get out there in the real world and help make someone else’s life better!

Toy Story, 20 years later: how Pixar made its first blockbuster

by Ben

Toy Story, 20 years later: how Pixar made its first blockbuster | The Verge.

“We were always aware that we were making the first film done on computers, but I don’t think any of us really realized that it was a first, like starting a new way of doing animation in any kind of real sense,” Susman said. “Even to this day, just thinking about doing this talk, it was like, ‘Whoa, we were part of the first of something.’ And that’s pretty special.”

Pioneering in a very real way. These people made something out of just pure creativity.

The Key Master

by Ben

Now I Know – The Key Master.

In December 2011, Harris got an email from someone claiming to be a recruiter for Google, wondering if the mathematician was interested in working for the company. The email noted that Harris “obviously [has] a passion for Linux and programming” and the recruiter wondered if Harris was “open to confidentially exploring opportunities with Google.” The email struck Harris as odd — his passion was clearly for math, not necessarily Linux or programming. And as far as he could remember, he hadn’t done anything which suggested an interest in working for Google. Harris’s skepticism took hold and he checked to see if the email was coming from Google at all — and upon further investigation, he found out that it was.

This guy should get an award, like Google normally gives when someone finds a flaw in their security and points it out to them instead of exploiting it.

Nintendo Plans for Mobile Games

by Ben

What We Know About Nintendo’s Plans For Mobile Games | TechCrunch.

The games giant partnered up with fellow Japanese outfit DeNA, a billion-dollar company that made its name with phone gaming, in a surprise alliance announced today that will see the duo develop mobile apps. But don’t expect a sea change from Nintendo; mobile is an expansion of its existing reach and not a wide-ranging pivot away from games consoles.

Interesting… I could see this working out well, even if all they do is release some Virtual Console titles (as many companies have done in the past). I’ve bought those from Capcom, Sega, Square-Enix, and others. Offering older titles could help Nintendo’s footing on mobile, but not erode sales of their own hardware. Other tie-in games could do the same, but Virtual Console is low-hanging fruit.

In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, global CO2 emissions have stalled

by Ben

In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, global CO2 emissions have stalled, but… : TreeHugger.
For the first time, the world economy grows while carbon emissions don't | The Verge.

New data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) is showing that last year, for the first time in four decades, global CO2 emissions have “stalled,” remaining at about 32 billion tonnes, the same number as in 2013. “This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. “It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth.”

All this means is the bathtub isn’t filling up quite as quickly, but it’s a good sign nevertheless. Let’s make 2015 the first year that the rate goes down.

Iowa City trio starts company to produce fresh tofu

by Ben

Iowa City trio starts company to produce fresh tofu.

“I’m just personally really excited to make the best tofu in North America, and I know we can do that,” he said. “I’m also just really excited to produce a really quality product for the community.”​

I hope they succeed. It sounds like they’re doing this because they really want to, rather than trying to make a quick buck.

Dropbox now available in the Chrome OS File Manager

by Ben

How To Access Dropbox from the Chromebook File Manager – OMG! Chrome!.

A new Chrome app allows users to access Dropbox files from the Chrome OS File Manager, just like Google Drive. You can browse and search files stored in your Dropbox and upload new ones.

The nifty new feature is possible thanks to the File System Provider API which has been available in Google’s cloud-centric OS for the past few releases.

A lack of Dropbox support has been a big roadblock for me when I consider purchasing a Chromebook. While this Chrome app doesn’t seem ideal, it seems like it could be at least as good as Dropbox on Android.

Chrome 42 Beta for Android Brings Powerful Developer Features

by Ben

Chrome 42 Beta Brings Powerful Developer Features.

The web is quickly becoming as powerful as native apps and Chrome 42 beta brings a number of huge features for developers to Android devices.

First, it brings a new “App Install Banner” that allows websites to show a prompt to users that asks if they want to add your site to their home screen. The idea is that Google wants to encourage users to start pinning the sites they frequent to their home screen, just like apps.


Chrome 42 also brings push notifications to the web, thanks to a new Push API that allows them to send a system notification. Your website can now send a full notification, even if Chrome isn’t open.

Happy to see the mobile web — or at least Chrome’s version of it — is catching up to “native” apps in terms of supported features. Let’s hope Safari and Firefox make the Push API a priority!

NTP’s Fate Hinges On ‘Father Time’

by Ben

NTP’s Fate Hinges On ‘Father Time’ – InformationWeek.

In April, one of the open source code movement’s first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks?

Or will this protocol go into a decline marked by drastically slowed development, fewer bug fixes, and greater security risks for the computers that use it? The question hinges to a surprising degree on the personal finances of a 59-year-old technologist in Talent, Ore., named Harlan Stenn.

Everyone uses NTP all the time to synchronize their clocks. This guy deserves a medal, as well as financial support.

Google Code joins the march to the Google Graveyard

by Ben

Google to close Google Code open source project hosting | Ars Technica.

Google Code is to join the long list of Google projects that have been consigned to the dustbin of history. The open source project hosting service will no longer be accepting new project submissions as of today, will no longer be accepting updates to existing projects from August 24, and will be closed entirely on January 25, 2016.

Now’s the time to find a new home for any projects you still have on Google Code. If you depend on any projects that are only on Google Code, make sure you have a plan, especially if it’s not a well-maintained project. Downloading a tarball now might save a lot of pain later.