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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 Iowa category. Clear

Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure

by Ben


A look at the United States’s bridges, electrical grid, pipelines, railroads, airports and waterways


Iowa has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges, with about 20 percent of its bridges — more than 5,000 — classified as such. According to the National Bridge Inventory database, this means that the bridge “has one or more structural defects that require attention.”

Source: Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure

We can do better, Iowa.

Council Bluffs, Iowa – Data Centers – Google

by Ben

In 2007, we announced plans to construct a data center in Council Bluffs. Then in the spring of 2012, we announced that we would be building a second facility. We’ve established a long-term commitment to the region and state and will have invested over $2.5 billion by 2019. We’ve created over 300 jobs on site so far, and we work hard to support the communities in which our employees live and work.

Source: Council Bluffs, Iowa – Data Centers – Google

4 of the 7 availability zones in the US are in Iowa. Pretty nice!

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.

Iowa primed to be first in nation for driverless cars

by Ben

Iowa primed to be first in nation for driverless cars | TheGazette.

IOWA CITY — Iowa is well equipped to become the first state in the nation with a roadway certified for driverless cars, and researchers this week met with government and transportation officials to discuss the possibilities.

Mark Nolte from ICAD has been a big proponent of this, and it’s a lot more likely than you might initially think…

Google seeks $1 billion expansion of Council Bluffs, Iowa datacenter

by Ben

Google seeks $1 billion expansion of Council Bluffs center | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Google Inc. wants to expand its Council Bluffs data center spending an additional $1 billion and doubling the size of its staff to 70. […] Google’s total investment in Iowa will come to around $2 billion. […] Microsoft is spending about $2 billion to build two data centers in West Des Moines and Facebook has invested about $1 billion in two Altoona data centers.

It’s exciting that there’s lots of large datacenter growth in Iowa. I’d be interested in seeing a tour of these sometime.

Iowa considers banning conversion therapy

by Ben

Iowa considers banning conversion therapy.

Iowa could become only the third state in the country to outlaw therapy techniques designed to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian youth.

Iowa has a history of firsts for human rights. This is a very good thing.

Obama in Cedar Falls, Municipal broadband in Iowa

by Ben

Big Cable, Obama spar over government-run broadband networks | Ars Technica.

We should have this available in Iowa City. It doesn’t need to be owned by the government; a cooperative or private organization would be fine too.

Obama spoke at Cedar Falls Utilities in Iowa, one day after calling for an end to laws in 19 states that make it difficult for cities and towns to create their own broadband networks. Cedar Falls, which is not in one of those states, offers 1Gbps fiber Internet service for $135 a month. Comcast’s fastest residential service tops out at 505Mbps and costs $400 a month.

Tesla Model S Owners Unite To Offer Law-Skirting Test Drives In Iowa

by Ben

Tesla Model S Owners Unite To Offer Law-Skirting Test Drives In Iowa.

This plus the new EVIowa group means there’s growing interest in driving electric in Iowa.

InsideEVs is on the scene for a law-skirting event where Model S owners (mostly from Minnesota) trekked to Iowa to hold a private test-drive event where potential Tesla-owning Iowans can drive the Model S to get a feel for the electric car.

There’s always a way to work around existing laws, right?

Paul Steier, director of the Iowa DOT’s Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection, says that this test-drive event is perfectly legal since the Model S owners don’t work for Tesla and have no direct association with the automaker.