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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.

Google Cloud Platform Blog: Ruby on Google App Engine goes beta

by Ben

We’re thrilled to welcome Ruby developers to the Google Cloud Platform, and we’re committed to making further investments to help make you as productive as possible. This is just the start — stay tuned to the blog and our GitHub repositories to catch the next wave of Ruby support on GCP.

Source: Google Cloud Platform Blog: Ruby on Google App Engine goes beta

Error 418 (I’m a teapot)!?

by Ben

418. I’m a teapot.

The requested entity body is short and stout.
Tip me over and pour me out.

Source: Error 418 (I’m a teapot)!?

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!

The case for a monolithic repository

by Ben

Gregory Szorc’s Digital Home | On Monolithic Repositories.
Gregory Szorc’s Digital Home | Notes from Facebook’s Developer Infrastructure at Scale F8 Talk.

I’ve seen a lot written about reasons why your organization should keep a monolithic repository instead of a collection of many smaller repositories, especially for internal code (non-OSS). I’ve had similar experiences to what is described in these posts.

And before you think “we’re getting too big for that,” keep in mind that these recommendations are coming out of big players like Facebook and Google.

Google Code joins the march to the Google Graveyard

by Ben

Google to close Google Code open source project hosting | Ars Technica.

Google Code is to join the long list of Google projects that have been consigned to the dustbin of history. The open source project hosting service will no longer be accepting new project submissions as of today, will no longer be accepting updates to existing projects from August 24, and will be closed entirely on January 25, 2016.

Now’s the time to find a new home for any projects you still have on Google Code. If you depend on any projects that are only on Google Code, make sure you have a plan, especially if it’s not a well-maintained project. Downloading a tarball now might save a lot of pain later.

Why open source and open standards matter on Android

by Ben

Google has a mixed history with their product offerings. Though they were once the poster child of open source contributions and open standards, they are now shutting down well-liked, standards-based services to move users to applications that are more tightly integrated in the Google ecosystem, allowing them to more closely track users and collect more data for advertising purposes. As examples, Google Reader (which used the RSS and Atom standards) was shut down in favor of Google+, CalDAV access was limited for Google Calendar (though I think they partially reversed that decision), and they’re in the middle of shutting down Google Talk (which uses XMPP, the same as Facebook and others) in favor of Google Hangouts. The writing is clearly on the wall for FeedBurner and maybe even IMAP access to Gmail. The idea of Google killing off IMAP seemed far fetched a couple of years ago, but now that “Inbox by Gmail” is their vision for email’s future, it certainly seems possible in a few years.  All of this means that Google will have much more control over how and when we can use our data.

It’s no secret that Google is continuing to migrate Android from being an open source smartphone to an OS to host its proprietary apps and services. That said, Android is still the most open of the mainstream mobile platforms. Compare that to Apple’s iOS, which is very unlikely to ever receive a version of Firefox that isn’t just a skin for Safari and specifically bans code from the App Store if it uses certain types of open source licenses, like the General Public License (GPL).

Thankfully, open source and standards-based solutions are available on Android. They don’t have a “kill switch” for any one company to flip.  The important thing is to use them.

Given the above, if you’re not the fondest of relying on Google for yet another service and would like to know if open source, standards-based apps exist for your need, these are some good sources to consult:

Should you only use open source applications? Well, it might not be that enjoyable of an experience on mobile today… and although open source matters, open standards might even be a more important distinction to consider as we move more and more towards cloud computing, considering that products will continue to appear and disappear over time.  Certainly, if you have a choice between a closed-source app that uses open standards and a closed-source app that uses the opposite (i.e., proprietary APIs), it would likely to be in your own best interest to strongly consider the former, given the long term.

The list of sources is just a starter set, but worth a look the next time you’re looking for software.  If open source and/or open standards aren’t on your list of considerations, there might not be much software that use either in the future.

Update: I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Dan Bernier shared this related post with me: Your App Is Not Better Than An Open Protocol.

Neither Microsoft, Nokia, nor anyone else should fork Android. It’s unforkable.

by Ben

Neither Microsoft, Nokia, nor anyone else should fork Android. It’s unforkable. | Ars Technica.

An interesting take on Google’s Android strategy. In summary, Android is Open Source, but Google is really pushing that apps depending on proprietary Google Mobile Services (GMS). This explains why some apps aren’t in the Amazon Appstore. I’d be interested in how Cyanogen Mod is solving the GMS problem.

At any rate, the only service that is really discussed is in-app purchases… I’ve never made an in-app purchase, so that wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me (although I have purchased apps before). I could see how that would be a big blow to the current mobile gaming industry. I would imagine Google’s mapping service is another… but it’s hard to say what other GMS services I would really care about.