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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.


Calculating Your CO2 Footprint

by Ben

Op-Ed: Calculating Your CO2 Footprint | Inside EVs

I’ve found myself returning to the above post every so often. It doesn’t have much to do with EVs (electric vehicles) — although they are one way to reduce your carbon footprint.

The thing I like about the post is that it lays out the clear goal of 1.6 tons of annual carbon emissions per capita and shows that the author — a self described “mister green” — has a little more than twice that amount of carbon emissions today. He has a low emission car, solar on his roof, etc. His example goes a long way towards showing how far we all have to go, considering the average American has 17 tons of carbon emissions per year.

Compared to many carbon estimation services out there, actually looking at your electric,  gasoline, and natural gas usage gives a much more accurate result. (I’m actually really surprised I can’t find an app to do that with our personal energy usage! Leave a comment if you know of one.) Most carbon estimators, take so much liberty with their assumptions that there no possible way to get an estimate that even approaches the 1.6 ton goal.

So here’s to the journey; we’ll all have to change, but everything we need to solve the problem is here today.

Why is printf better than echo?

by Ben

Why is printf better than echo? – Unix & Linux Stack Exchange

I don’t always like the “epic” answers on StackExchange, but this one was really good. I hadn’t even realized how bad echo was for unfiltered input. Next time I shell script, I’ll keep printf in mind.

Largest Climate-Change March in History Unlikely to Convince Idiots

by Ben

Largest Climate-Change March in History Unlikely to Convince Idiots – The New Yorker.

Andy Borowitz cuts right to the core. I wish this were less true.

A climate-change march that organizers claim was the largest on record is nevertheless unlikely to change the minds of idiots, a survey of America’s idiots reveals.

Despite bringing attention to a position that is embraced by more than ninety per cent of the world’s scientists, the People’s Climate March, which took place on Sunday in New York City, left a broad majority of the nation’s idiots unconvinced.

4 Chrome Extensions for Teachers

by Ben

TabCarousel is the first on the list.

Good to know I’m helping teachers out there. After all, teachers are important people to me. ;-)

The 10 states with the best quality of life

by Ben

The 10 states with the best quality of life.

4. Iowa

Employment rate: 78.1% (5th highest)
Household disposable income per capita: $30,164 (20th highest)
Homicide rate: 1.38 per 100,000 people (2nd lowest)
Voter turnout: 69.4% (tied, 6th highest)

The OECD rated Iowa better than all but a few states for its jobs climate and safety. Just 5.2% of the workforce was unemployed last year, and the homicide rate — 1.4 per 100,000 — was lower than every state except New Hampshire. Iowa residents also had the benefit of a productive renewable energy sector, with greater production of renewable energy than all but two other states as of 2012. The majority of renewable energy output came from 476 trillion BTUs of biodiesel produced that year, which was more than any other state.

Iowa is also the leader in wind energy. Lots of reasons to be happy. :)

Markdown throwdown

by Ben

My comment on the Ars Technica article:

All things considered, I’d rather have companies like GitHub, StackOverflow, and reddit push for an improved open standard than let Markdown continue to languish. Compared to some other companies on the web, those 3 don’t seem like bad apples at all — but having clearer community involvement wouldn’t hurt.

I’m totally on board for a name change though, and a bit surprised Atwood didn’t push for that. Something simple, say “Discount” (or another play on the word Markdown).

At the time of this writing, it has a score of 74 votes, making it a reader favorite for the article — which was a nice surprise. :)

The Web Is Not Dead

by Ben

Revisiting WIRED’s 2010 article in 2014, the mobile web is growing, not shrinking.

Google to Discontinue 32-bit Chrome for Mac Next Month

by Ben

Google to Discontinue 32-bit Chrome for Mac Next Month – OMG! Chrome.

It’s sad that I could run the latest Chrome on a Pentium 4 Dell found on the side of the road, but not on the Core Duo Mac mini I bought (for quite a bit, mind you). I don’t expect support to last forever, but what a disparity.

I want one

by Ben


From XKCD.

Transformers: Surprisingly mediocre

by Ben

From my 3-star review posted on Amazon:

I expected better, especially from the writers. It’s not bad, but I don’t have any desire to see it again.

It’s essentially The Avengers, but with robots, crude humor, and many fighting scenes that seemed to go on longer than they should. It’s a good movie if you just want to watch a somewhat-mindless action flick for 2.5 hours, or if you’re a bigger fan of the cartoon than I was as a kid.