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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.

Welcoming the Xamarin team to Microsoft

by Ben

I am pleased to announce today that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development.

Source: ScottGu’s Blog – Welcoming the Xamarin team to Microsoft

Sunsetting Parse

by Ben

Beginning today we’re winding down the Parse service, and Parse will be fully retired after a year-long period ending on January 28, 2017.


First, we’re releasing a database migration tool that lets you migrate data from your Parse app to any MongoDB database. During this migration, the Parse API will continue to operate as usual based on your new database, so this can happen without downtime. Second, we’re releasing the open source Parse Server, which lets you run most of the Parse API from your own Node.js server. Once you have your data in your own database, Parse Server lets you keep your application running without major changes in the client-side code.

Source: Michael Tsai – Blog – Sunsetting Parse

Android and iOS apps on Windows: What is Microsoft doing—and will it work?

by Ben

Android and iOS apps on Windows: What is Microsoft doing—and will it work? | Ars Technica.

The way Microsoft presented the Android and iOS support on stage last week wasn’t particularly encouraging. The way that Projects Astoria and Islandwood—the codenames for Android and iOS app support, respectively—were promoted in the keynote presentation, one might think that the Android and iOS support were pretty solid substitutes for the Universal Windows Apps that are native to Windows 10 on all the hardware form factors it will support. It seemed like porting apps from those platforms would be an effective alternative to any plans to develop native Windows applications.

This is pretty crazy: Windows will support Android and iOS applications through compatibility layers.  I don’t really see the iOS layer getting a lot of traction just because it takes a lot of work, but the strong Android support is going to further entrench Android as a platform you can deploy to almost anything (second only to HTML5).

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.

iOS 8 wish-list: pre-WWDC edition

by Ben

iOS 8 changes we’d like to see: The OS and Home screen | Macworld.

iOS 8 wish-list: What we'd love to see at WWDC 2014! | iMore.

Why Apple should relax its App Store rules | Macworld.

Just a collection of posts I read leading up to the start of Apple’s WWDC tomorrow.

I previously posted my own list of feature requests back in March. All the posts above were definitely written by people who have used iOS for a while. Since even Macworld is asking for some of the same changes as me, who knows, maybe some of them will happen (especially some form of better inter-app communication). But then again, many of the changes have been on wish-lists for years, so it’s hard to say. Regardless, 80% or more of the requested features already exist in Android. With that in mind, I feel it’s becoming harder and harder to justify the higher price of iOS devices. Back in 2008-2011, the benefits were much clearer. Makes one wonder what the mobile space will look like 5 years out…

300ms test for Mobile Browsers

by Ben

300ms test.

Try it on Chrome for iOS vs Chrome for Android. (Video.) The former feels ridiculously slow by comparison. Same goes for Safari, even on iOS 7. When I talk about it being a problem that there’s only one browser engine (Apple’s version of WebKit) allowed on iOS, this is the type of problem I’m referring to.

Chrome Packaged Apps Coming to Android, iOS

by Ben

Chrome Packaged Apps Coming to Android, iOS | OMG! Chrome!.

This will make things interesting for web developers. I’m especially curious to see how it works out on iOS, and what Google’s long term strategy will be for Android development