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 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 Conference category. Clear

Self-hosted “Read It Later” App: Poche

by Ben

“Read Later” Apps Compared: Pocket vs. Instapaper vs. Readability.

I used to use Instapaper often, but was turned off by the price for mobile apps and (former?) incompatibility with Android.  Their web app isn’t very mobile friendly either.  Over time, I started using Instapaper less and less… Pocket seemed like a nice alternative, but I couldn’t really bring myself to switch.

Looking for a self-hosted alternative to other “read later” apps?  I’ve been pretty happy with Poche (PHP, demo) so far.  I even deleted my Instapaper account and switched to using Poche instead. It’s nice and lightweight, with a responsive design that works on phones, tablets, and desktops.

I haven’t gotten an offline version working (there’s an Android app though, and an export to ePub feature seems likely).  My only complaint so far? A lot of the user community only seems to discuss Poche in French (“poche” means “pocket” in French) — certainly something I’m not accustomed to in a largely Anglophone open source community.

Update: Poche linked back from their blog. Thanks!

How the Internet will (one day) transform government

by Ben

I’ve seen some of the experimenting that people have done with bringing legal code (i.e., laws) to GitHub. As an open source developer, I think Clay has it right when he says that transparency is only one side of openness and that citizen created bills are (hopefully) inevitable. After all, our government is too important to leave exclusively to politicians.

Or, you know, the Internet will just be a place we go to see funny pictures of cats. It’s what we make of it.

Update: Just as an experiment, I made a repository for the laws of Iowa because I couldn’t find an existing one. I’m experimenting to see if any others are interesed as well, based on star count or contributions.

Video: Clay Shirky: How the Internet will (one day) transform government

UGtastic Interview

by Ben

I did an interview with UGtastic at WindyCityRails. They just tweeted the video so I thought I’d embed it here. From their description:

Midwestern and East Coast Ruby Community

Benjamin Oakes helped start the Iowa City Ruby user-group before moving out to Connecticut and helping start up the New Haven Ruby. We discuss a little bit of the differences between running a group in the Mid-west versus the East Coast.

(Interview licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, and also available on Vimeo.)

WindyCityRails 2012

by Ben

South Shore Cultural Center, Chicago

South Shore Cultural Center, Chicago
(Photo: Jeff Zoline CC BY-NC 2.0)

WindyCityRails was a lot of fun.

As I’ve done in the past, I took notes and put them into an open wiki on GitHub. Some quick stats: the wiki project is up from approx. 220 stars to 241 right now, and even got a few more contributors (~49 → 53).

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the better talks:

* David Chelimsky: The RSpec Toolbox
* Evan Light: Frustration Driven Development
* Steve Klabnik: Development and Philosophy
* Several really good Lightning Talks

Both David Chelimsky and Steve Klabnik contributed to the wiki, which was a nice surprise. :) Steve’s talk was really good, but hard to do it justice with any notes… I was happy to see that he annotated it.