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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.

Apple temporarily cuts prices on all USB-C cables and accessories

by Ben

The USB-C to USB adapter goes from $19 to $9; the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter drops from $49 to $29; the USB-C to Lightning cable goes from $25 to $19 for one-meter cables and from $35 to $29 for two-meter cables; both the HDMI and VGA versions of Apple’s multi-port dongles drop from $69 to $49; and SanDisk’s Extreme Pro SD card reader drops from $49 to $29.

Source: Apple temporarily cuts prices on all USB-C cables and accessories | Ars Technica

These adapters are still pretty expensive when you consider the base price of the laptop went up by $400 and you might need maybe $100 worth of dongles to match needed functionality on the previous generation of the MacBook Pro.  (The lack of HDMI is especially off-putting.)  USB-C is here to stay — no question about it — but this situation is making a lot of people reconsider upgrading.  Personally, I would have preferred a thicker laptop that happened to add USB-C ports in this generation.

Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever had an Apple computer without at least one adapter involved, but this is getting to be a bit extreme.  “There’s a dongle for that.”

Apple’s Phil Schiller thinks it’s sad that people use 5-year-old computers

by Ben

Apple’s big on being green, and their commitment to the environment is beyond question at this point — which makes you wonder why Schiller would casually take a shot at one of the greenest computing practices of all: getting absolutely everything that you can out of the devices that you purchase.

Source: Phil Schiller thinks it’s sad that people use 5-year-old computers | Apple |

Related: A Commodore 64 has helped run an auto shop for 25 years | Tech |

Apple’s actual role in podcasting: be careful what you wish for

by Ben

[Podcasts are] completely decentralized, free, fair, open, and uncontrollable by any single entity, as long as the ecosystem of podcast-player apps remains diverse enough that no app can dictate arbitrary terms to publishers (the way Facebook now effectively controls the web publishing industry).

Source: Apple’s actual role in podcasting: be careful what you wish for –

iOS 9.3 brings multi-user mode to iPads

by Ben

Multi-user mode is targeted toward schools, first beta is out today.

Source: iOS 9.3 brings multi-user mode to iPads, along with more features and fixes



Multi user mode only works in an educational setting apparently, but even so, this is good news for school districts that have invested in iPads.


Op-ed: Safari is the new Internet Explorer

by Ben

If devs build a modern Web app ecosystem sans Safari, maybe Apple can move beyond 2010.

Source: Op-ed: Safari is the new Internet Explorer

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay on many 2016 Chevy models

by Ben

From their press release, the following Chevy models will have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support:

For those unfamiliar with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, it lets you replace or supplement the infotainment system that comes with your car.  For example, you could use a music or navigation app running on your phone, rather than using the software that came with the car.  This will be especially interesting 10 years from now (2025!), when you might really wish you had a more up-to-date infotainment system in your 2016 model-year car.  These Android and Apple systems make it much easier to update how your car works, especially compared to physically removing part of your dashboard and replacing it.  Personally, I’ve been thinking it would be interesting just to leave an old smartphone in the car, charging over USB and loaded with music and maps that were downloaded over WiFi.

I’m especially intrigued by this because I’ve been considering a replacement for our 2003 model-year car, and it’s important to think 10 years ahead for such a big purchase.  (After all, we’re using a 2003 model-year car in 2015.)  While Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support isn’t likely to make or break our decision, it definitely has its benefits.

Apple Is Rejecting Some Apps From The App Store For Declaring Pebble Watch Support

by Ben

Apple Is Rejecting Some Apps From The App Store For Declaring Pebble Watch Support – Things Don’t Look Good For Android Wear On iOS.

Remember that report that claimed Google was preparing to make the Android Wear platform compatible with iOS? Yeah, that might not go down as smoothly as you had hoped. There’s still no official word on Wear for iOS, but the latest news out of the Apple camp has disturbing implications. According to one developer over on the official Pebble Watch forum, Apple is rejecting apps from its App Store simply for mentioning Pebble wearable support.

Yikes. That’s a scary precedent and very clearly anticompetitive.

Dropbox Dropping Tiger and Leopard Support in May

by Ben

Dropbox Dropping Tiger and Leopard Support in May | Low End Mac.

It’s far from surprising that Dropbox is dropping support for these old versions of OSX. However, it does remind me of how surprised I was when Dropbox stopped making new versions for iOS 6 soon after iOS 7 was released, while still shipping new releases for OSX 10.4 on PowerPC. Who would expect better software support for an old iMac than a much newer iPhone?

I only occasionally use PowerPC Macs at this point — I mostly just have one to play with since it was offered to me for free, to be honest — but it does make me a bit sad to know that some very powerful PowerMac G5s are just that much less useful when May rolls around. I don’t expect hardware to be supported forever, but a G5 Mac has to be about the worst deal ever in terms of official support. (My mom still has no idea what a bullet she dodged after Apple replaced her failing iMac G5 with an Intel one for free. A $1000+ investment in a computer is expensive, but it’s nothing short of amazing that she hasn’t had to buy something new since 2005, given what the computer industry tends to expect as an upgrade cycle. Or you could consider AppleCare to have been a great choice in her case.)

In the end, I hope this drop of support doesn’t send too many old computers to the landfill. Always remember to recycle your electronics responsibly when upgrading, through resale or a recycling program at Best Buy, an Apple store, etc.

Unsaved documents in Apple apps that use Documents in the Cloud are automatically saved to iCloud

by Ben

iCloud: Unsaved documents in Apple apps that use Documents in the Cloud are automatically saved to iCloud.

How one man’s private files ended up on Apple’s iCloud without his consent – The Washington Post.

Not the behavior I expected; makes me wonder what documents I have stored in iCloud without my knowledge. Either way, I’m happy Apple is moving to a more Dropbox-like strategy.

Tim Cook Speaks Up

by Ben

Tim Cook: “I’m Proud to be Gay” – Businessweek.

Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple.  From his article:

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. […] While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now.


I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

It’s great to have a well written piece from a well-known executive (and role model).  That’s a pretty brave thing to do, especially when you consider he’s the only openly-gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  The only unfortunate thing is that he almost seems to think his work is done… I have a feeling this isn’t the last time he speaks about this topic.