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. 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 Presidential Candidate With a Plan to Run the US on 100% Clean Energy

by Ben

Meet the only presidential candidate with a viable plan to stabilize the planet’s climate.

Source: The Presidential Candidate With a Plan to Run the US on 100% Clean Energy

This is really important stuff. I hope this helps bring climate change into the spotlight for the presidential election.


Stanford researcher declares that the sixth mass extinction is here

by Ben

Paul Ehrlich and others use conservative estimates to prove that species are disappearing faster than at any time since the dinosaurs’ demise.

Source: Stanford researcher declares that the sixth mass extinction is here

Even if this is an exaggeration, this is more evidence that we need to change many of our species’ bad habits. Ehrlich is right when he says “we are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.”



From ASM.JS to WebAssembly

by Ben

Source: Brendan Eich » Blog Archive » From ASM.JS to WebAssembly

WebAssembly, “wasm” for short, .wasm filename suffix, a new binary syntax for low-level safe code, initially co-expressive with asm.js, but in the long run able to diverge from JS’s semantics, in order to best serve as common object-level format for multiple source-level programming languages.

I have high hopes for this.

Ackbar’s Eleven: Star Wars/Ocean’s Eleven mashup

by Ben

Source: Ackbar’s Eleven: Star Wars/Ocean’s Eleven mashup

Cross a judiciously edited briefing scene from Star Wars with the audio from the briefing scene in Ocean’s Eleven, and what do you get?

This is actually pretty clever.



Apple drops license requirement for testing on your own device

by Ben

Source: Apple drops license requirement for testing on your own device

About time. This is a good move.



The making of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”

by Ben

One day in the early 1990s, as Simpsons writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein were working on a script in their office, Matt Groening appeared at the door and blurted out an idea. “We should do an episode like ‘Who shot J.R.?’” Weinstein remembers the creator of the show saying, “but with Mr. Burns”

Source: The making of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” (via Zach Morek)

Lots of interesting history here.  They took it so seriously, but it still ended up being funny!

Microsoft Will Help Iowa Caucuses Go High-Tech

by Ben

Microsoft Will Help Iowa Caucuses Go High-Tech – Slashdot.

Poltical party caucuses are one of the quirkier aspects of American political life: local party members gather in small rooms across the state, discuss their preferences, and send a report of how many delegates for each candidate will attend later county and statewide caucuses to ultimately choose delegates to the national convention. It’s also a system with a lot of room for error in reporting, as local precinct leaders have traditionally sent in reports of votes via telephone touch-tone menus and paper mail. In 2016, Microsoft will help both Democrats and Republicans streamline the process.

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay on many 2016 Chevy models

by Ben

From their press release, the following Chevy models will have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support:

For those unfamiliar with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, it lets you replace or supplement the infotainment system that comes with your car.  For example, you could use a music or navigation app running on your phone, rather than using the software that came with the car.  This will be especially interesting 10 years from now (2025!), when you might really wish you had a more up-to-date infotainment system in your 2016 model-year car.  These Android and Apple systems make it much easier to update how your car works, especially compared to physically removing part of your dashboard and replacing it.  Personally, I’ve been thinking it would be interesting just to leave an old smartphone in the car, charging over USB and loaded with music and maps that were downloaded over WiFi.

I’m especially intrigued by this because I’ve been considering a replacement for our 2003 model-year car, and it’s important to think 10 years ahead for such a big purchase.  (After all, we’re using a 2003 model-year car in 2015.)  While Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support isn’t likely to make or break our decision, it definitely has its benefits.

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).