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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 Liaison. Previously, I was a Developer at Continuity and 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, OpenHack Iowa City, and previously organized NewHaven.rb. I have an amazing wife named Danielle Oakes.

Filtering for the month March, 2016. Clear

Diablo dissected by its original devs

by Ben


Among the other design decisions illuminated by the panel: Brevik and his team (who were eventually rechristened Blizzard North) copied XCOM’s “actual tile square basis.” Brevik admitted that Diablo’s design “was basically built upon a screengrab from XCOM.” Also, Brevik was the dev team’s last holdout on two of Diablo’s most iconic elements: real-time control and online multiplayer.

Source: Post-mortem: Ms. Pac-Man, Diablo dissected by their original devs

Electric cars gaining ground in Iowa

by Ben

 Iowa license plate, 100% electric badge

CEDAR RAPIDS – When Gary Scott arrives for work each morning at Schneider Electric in Cedar Rapids, he plugs his 2012 Nissan Leaf into one of two charging stations in the company’s parking lot.

Source: Electric cars gaining ground in Iowa

A little strange that they don’t count the Chevy Volt or other plugins in the discussion, but this is still good news, nonetheless.

Experimental support for WebAssembly in V8

by Ben

Starting today, experimental support for WebAssembly is available in V8 and Chromium behind a flag.

Source: V8 JavaScript Engine: Experimental support for WebAssembly in V8

Using CCMenu with Travis CI

by Ben

CCMenu is a little tool for the OS X status bar to keep track of your repositories’ latest build status from the convenience of your Mac.

CCTray is the equivalent tool for your Windows environment, BuildNotify for Linux systems. The general instructions apply to all of them.

They were originally built for use with CruiseControl, but they work just as well with Travis CI, and you can use either to poll your Travis CI repositories and have their status show in the menu bar or tray.

Source: Using CCMenu with Travis CI – Travis CI

Despite what you may have heard, Leonardo DiCaprio is probably not buying a house in Iowa City any time soon.

by Ben

Despite what you may have heard, Leonardo DiCaprio is probably not buying a house in Iowa City any time soon.

Source: Despite what you may have heard, Leonardo DiCaprio is probably not buying a house in Iowa City any time soon.

16 years later, Blizzard is still patching Diablo II

by Ben

New update helps the game run on modern operating systems

Source: 16 years later, Blizzard is still patching Diablo II

That’s some commitment.

Longtime downtown Chait art gallery to close

by Ben

Chait Galleries owner Benjamin Chait said in his retirement he will spend more time on his own art and with his family.

Source: Longtime downtown Chait art gallery to close

I practically lived above this gallery for a year when Busy Coworking was still in existence. I hope someone fills the void they’re leaving.

Trump tomato tosser has no regrets

by Ben

“I’d like to live in a country where Donald Trump can’t go anywhere without worrying about being pelted by produce,” he said.

Source: Trump tomato tosser has no regrets

SQL Server for Linux coming in mid-2017

by Ben

Will follow the release of SQL Server 2016 for Windows later this year.

Source: SQL Server for Linux coming in mid-2017

This is a big deal.


The chilling impact of Digital Restrictions Management in libraries

by Ben

This is a guest post by James Hutter, a technology librarian in New York. The post was written for the 2015 International Day Against DRM.

As Defective by Design celebrates another Day Against DRM Digital Restrictions Management, many overlook the significant impact that DRM has had on public libraries and their avid readers. Today, public libraries everywhere are directly affected by DRM, by the will of book publishers or of authors, in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most common appearance of DRM technology is its frequent integration into published e-books and downloadable audiobooks as a way to prevent them from being copied or shared. The reality is that publishers and authors’ use of DRM technology in electronic works is flawed and unethical for a number of reasons—and should be argued against by library advocates throughout the world.

Entities that have decided to force published works, such as e-books and downloadable audiobooks, to integrate DRM technology have fundamentally broken the library lending model. In the past, if a library wished to share a physical book with a reader, there was little to prevent that person from enjoying the publication. Today, for that reader to enjoy an author’s work in electronic format, there will likely be significant technical hurdles that they must overcome. They must use download services that have made agreements with book publishers. Readers must own devices that are supported by the download services (and if your device isn’t supported—you are out of luck).

We exist in a reality of tight and highly limited library budgets. Yet libraries must now be willing to pay for not only the electronic publications that will be added to their collection, but also for overall access to the download service that provides those works. This is, for all purposes, to help maintain DRM’s hold over an electronic work. For many libraries, this particular cost is extremely high—sometimes prohibitively high. For libraries that may be able to afford access to the download service, they find themselves suddenly “sticker shocked” when they see that individual e-books may cost many times the price of their physical counterparts. Library staff are then angry to learn that the e-books they’ve purchased have a shelf life of 52 weeks after which they become unusable.

It is clear that this goes beyond mere inconvenience. DRM has been utilized as a weapon by book publishers to fundamentally change the library lending model and manipulate it in such a way that they can now dictate the terms of ownership. Through DRM, publishers are now licensing creative works to libraries instead of selling ownership of them. Through the combination of licensing, DRM, and tightly controlled delivery methods, publishers now dictate that an e-book “wears out” after 26 downloads and must be re-purchased (meaning the license must be renewed).

It is worth noting that some authors have released their works DRM-free and some download services have begun sharing electronic audiobooks in non-DRM format. Those that have done so should be applauded and supported. However, there is still much more that can be done, and the fight against DRM is anything but over.

Extremely tight controls, high pricing, e-books without ownership… as I sit here, I have to wonder, was DRM put into place because publishers think the library lending model is theft and our readers are thieves? DRM gives these publishers a level of control over libraries that must be reversed and the Day Against DRM raises awareness on this critical issue.

James Hutter is an opponent of DRM, an advocate of free software and supporter of electronic privacy rights, he has a love for all things library-related. The views and opinions expressed in this piece are his own. You can follow him at @james_lead on Twitter.

Original: The chilling impact of Digital Restrictions Management in libraries | Defective by Design

The chilling impact of Digital Restrictions Management in libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.