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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.


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.

Iowa City ranks among top users of public transit in the nation

by Ben

Iowa City ranks among top users of public transit in the nation – TheGazette.

Way to go, Iowa City! Almost in the top ten for the United States. Number 11 isn’t bad, but we’re so close to beating Philadelphia that we should make that a goal. :)

From my experiences riding the bus regularly, there’s definitely a wide variety of people that use public transit, from working professionals who could probably drive everyday if they wanted, to those who only have the bus as a means of transportation. I personally take the bus to prevent extra carbon emissions and save some money, but when I can, I bike to get a little extra exercise. I also just like supporting public transit so it remains available to everyone. From what I’ve observed, busing and biking are common in Iowa City, partially because of the pedestrian culture here. I’d be curious how the transit usage numbers would differ between college students and otherwise, but I would guess the difference is not as large as many people would think. That said, other university-centric cities are near the top of the list, so it definitely has an effect.

It’s especially interesting to contrast with the numbers for other places I’ve lived where public transit isn’t used by as many types of people. The numbers seem to match reality pretty well, especially for very car-dependent areas. Where does your city fall in the list?

Iowa’s largest solar farm unveiled in Johnson County

by Ben

Iowa’s largest solar farm unveiled in Johnson County.

Great to hear. Makes me wonder how much energy Iowa could produce compared to what we consume.

The array is capable of generating up to 1,800 watts of solar power per customer, giving the cooperative the highest per-capita solar generation rate of any utility in the nation, said Warren McKenna, general manager and CEO of Farmers Electric Cooperative.


Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Naig said the state already leads the nation when it comes to wind energy, with 27.4 percent of Iowa’s total energy production coming from that renewable source, along with ethanol and biodiesel, which contributed $5.5 billion to Iowa’s gross domestic product last year.


Keys said with the U.S. sending about $1 billion each day overseas to purchase energy, “homegrown” renewable sources such as solar power represent an important step in reducing that foreign dependency.