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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 TechCorridor.io, ICRuby, OpenHack Iowa City, and previously organized NewHaven.rb. I have an amazing wife named Danielle Oakes.

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

by Ben

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

Specifically:

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.

California issues more self-driving permits, Iowa creates testing corridor

by Ben

On Monday, HERE (the mapping company now owned by Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz) and the Iowa Department of Transportation announced their own project to develop an autonomous vehicle and freight movement corridor on I-380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

Source: California issues more self-driving permits, Iowa creates testing corridor

Iowa Utilities Board approves huge wind energy project

by Ben

The Iowa Utilities Board has approved a wind turbine operation it says will be the nation’s largest wind energy project. […] [T]he project will see 85 percent of the company’s Iowa customer needs met through wind energy by 2020.

Source: Iowa Utilities Board approves huge wind energy project

CenturyLink charges data overage fees, may disconnect “excessive” users

by Ben

Users over 300GB a month can be charged extra $50—or even lose their service.

Source: CenturyLink charges data overage fees, may disconnect “excessive” users

Broadband internet as a public utility – Jason T. Lewis for Supervisor

by Ben

Broadband Internet connectivity is expensive and in Johnson county there is little to no competition and just a couple companies hold a virtual monopoly on access. Compared to other areas our size, the options and speeds are no competitive. Broadband Internet access drives economic growth. It’s time for Johnson County to lead. We need to partner with our community stakeholders and find a solution that will give everyone in Johnson County access to free or low-cost broadband Internet access.

Source: Broadband internet as a public utility – Jason T. Lewis for Supervisor

Electric cars gaining ground in Iowa

by Ben

 Iowa license plate, 100% electric badge

CEDAR RAPIDS – When Gary Scott arrives for work each morning at Schneider Electric in Cedar Rapids, he plugs his 2012 Nissan Leaf into one of two charging stations in the company’s parking lot.

Source: Electric cars gaining ground in Iowa

A little strange that they don’t count the Chevy Volt or other plugins in the discussion, but this is still good news, nonetheless.

The Compost Ninja works to divert material from landfill

by Ben

The Compost Ninja picks drops of and picks up buckets for compostable items in Linn, Johnson and Iowa counties which earn participant points they can use on compost for their gardens or to receive vegetables and fruits grown using The Compost Ninja’s compost.

Source: Ground Floor: The Compost Ninja works to divert material from landfill

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…