I'm Ben Turner, ex-soldier, ex-web designer, and ex-stock trader. I'm 36 years old, and am a recent master's graduate from the the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, studying international development and communications policy (read my research papers). I like basketball, personalities, tennis, anthropology, web technology, and sophisticated women. I'm now an NYU grad student in the Tisch School of the Arts for the Interactive Telecommunications Program. I've been in this game since 1995.
My Facebook profile. It's getting rather excessively descriptive and verbose.
My research papers at Scribd. Papers on Facebook, Japan vs. US cellphone sectors, Iraq democratization, US-Iran policy.
My future start-up, dealing with online reputations and identities (e.g. whuffie). Hopefully it'll make millions and I can subsidize other projects!
My social bookmark list. del.icio.us lets you share your bookmarks online, and tag them
according to their topic.
Collates all the data I'm streaming out to the Internet from various sources.
My photo albums at Flickr. Most of the photos are private. With Flickr, you can tag photos
by topic and sort them into different sets.
On August 27th I proposed to my fiancée in a secluded spot at the gardens of Versailles in France, and she said yes! It was just so green where I asked her; take a look:
The other good news is that I've settled into my place of employment at the most excellent Barbarian Group.
I got an opportunity to show my worth from the very beginning, with Project Popcorn, which forms a team of people from different areas of the company to build something out of an open-ended idea.
We chose to build Cryptstagram, which lets you upload an image, encrypt it with a secret message via a password (steganography), and then give it Instagram-like glitch aesthetic filters.
I got to build the server myself (Kevin, a senior art director, did the design wireframes, while Tucker and John wrote the copy, and Aimee pushed strongly for steganography from the very beginning as tech director), so I chose node.js/express.js with mongodb, along with jQuery on the front-end (the external libs I used made using other frameworks somewhat difficult since libs tend to have methods that don't inter-operate), exploiting cool tricks with HTML5 Canvas, Amazon S3 (ugh, CORS and CSRF), and client-side encryption and face detection.
Finally, done with over a decade of school and ready to build a life for me and my new family!
posted @ 10:42PM EDT on Saturday, October 12th, 2013
Becoming a New Yorker
Since my last update, I moved down the street back to the East Village (joining my girlfriend, who moved from Queens), graduated from NYU (at Radio City Music Hall), and started a developer job at The Barbarian Group. It's been a very fortuitous summer!
I'm going to France for a wedding in a month, should continue to ramp up my knowledge in various web frameworks and design patterns and arcane tech knowledge, and hope to resume a life of normalcy where I can hang out with friends again (some of whom are getting engaged!).
Summer has drawn to a close in NYC. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. And I had a lovely female New Yorker guide. Now fall approaches, my second year of art school begins, and I prepare to present Galapag.us as my thesis project.
This summer I managed to go to the Galapagos Islands and Quito (and the equator) with my dad. It was even better than I thought it could be!
I also got to go up to Niagara Falls and see some of what Nikola Tesla created. And I went to see horse racing for the first time, in Saratoga. Went to Vegas to see long-time friends, as well. And got a lot of practice with Python, MongoDB, and node.js at work in the heart of NYC Silicon Alley. All while having met an amazing woman.
One more thing: I finally watched "It Might Get Loud", a documentary/jam with The Edge, Jimmy Page, and Jack White, where they talk about how they came to love the electric guitar and how they crafted their sounds.
What struck me about the film was seeing them together, sharing parts of their famous guitarwork, and, well, seeing these men, experts at their craft, being able to look at what magic they've created, and being able to share it with like minds. Simply wonderful.
And it makes me yearn to one day be similarly masterful in something. The road has been longer and harder and full of more curves for me, not in ease (I've lived a good life so far), but in the degree to which and the time I've had to invest trying to find what it is I could be masterful at. I long for reaching that point, though. What will I be good at?
posted @ 04:59PM EDT on Monday, September 24th, 2012
The Upheaval Continues
I just completed my first year of ITP and finished up my two semesters at The Colbert Report. I'll be saying goodbye to many people I wish I didn't have to. I also just moved to another place a little north from where I was before, from the East Village to Stuy Town. From my room and from the shower, I can see the Empire State Building, particularly at night, when I can see the ill-chosen flashes of tourists' cameras from the Top of the Rock. Hopefully I won't need to move from here for a while. I'd be happy -- it's a spacious place with a great roommate in a gorgeous, quiet part of NYC by the East River.
This summer will be somewhat stable and simple, allowing me to focus. I have an internship at a TechStars startup alumn so I'm hoping to gain a lot of hacker cred. And I'm taking a long-awaited trip to the Galápagos Islands -- it's my number one most-wanted place to go and will provide inspiration, catalyzation, and photo...ization? for my ITP thesis next spring.
So here's to a period of settling in, finding roots, finding friends, finding purpose.
posted @ 07:07PM EDT on Saturday, May 12th, 2012
Almost the One Year Anniversary
...of the fire that pushed me out of my favorite home ever, in Logan Circle in DC. Still haunts me.
I'm living in Manhattan now, with a view north of the Empire State Building's lights coming into my window at night. I'm now in school studying Processing, Arduino, Final Cut Pro X, Sinatra, Ruby, etc., becoming a far more experienced coder and jack-of-all-trades. To be around the artists, actors, and other creatives who go to the Tisch School, and to be around my classmates, who are all digitally savvy, curious, fun-loving, playful, and resourceful? Well, it's a bit like being a kid again. My creative classmates inspire me with their fantastic ideas and executions of those ideas. To see my classmates all on "the floor", working and tinkering on multiple playful projects -- it's what I always hoped I could do while in school. :) On the side I'm interning at The Colbert Report and getting a crash course in Linux administration and jQuery. I'm becoming even more digitized than I was before, which is getting scary.
On the other hand, grad school is like two years of feeling brain-addled. You do nothing particularly well, and you're never completely done with anything. It's a necessary evil to get to where I want to go, though I'm worn out of being a student at this point. I bring that up because it's a counter-point to all the benefits: living in East Village, using my deserved Post-9/11 GI Bill, experiencing an alternate universe where people give a damn about things that are beautiful, where people create instead of destroy.
There is, perhaps, too much destruction taking place right now. This includes, I fear, the destruction of yet another of my previous lives, which I've become rather good at, much to the detriment of my ability to create.
posted @ 10:30AM EDT on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
2011 is Already Kicking 2010's Ass!
So after 4.5 months of not having access to my old apartment in Logan Circle, I was finally allowed to go in and collect my things. Turns out my computer, electronics, and monitors work fine, although I think a few of my things were stolen, or I haven't found them yet. Other people said they were missing some things too. I recovered a lot of potentially lost data. I had to wipe a lot of soot off my stuff, which takes forever and is never 100% done. I threw away a lot of shoes and fabric stuff. My clothes are being cleaned on the management's dime and I'm told they'll be perfectly fine when I get them back. I hope!
Here's a video I shot while collecting my stuff:
So that was a relief to begin to put that stage of my life behind me. And yesterday, I also got my $180 back from Comcast after a protracted email struggle which ended in me paying for my "lost" equipment.
The best thing to happen was that I just got an email saying I was accepted to NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program! It'll be 2 years for a Masters of Professional Studies degree, full of 60 credits of courses learning audio, video, Python, Ruby, Arduino, Processing, creating art, 3D printing, laser cutting, building circuitboards, and so on. I can hardly wait to work with my hands again after sitting at a desk for a few years. Also, life in Manhattan! I'll move up in July or August. The DC chapter comes to a close. Thank you to Jim Webb and other Congressmen for proposing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which made me eligible for new funding.
I'll be working until I leave -- and I'm now a team lead at work, so I get to do one of my favorite things, which is help develop subordinates and train them to be better at their job and at finding their own paths and personalities.
So this year is already off to an awesome start! There'll be a lot of changes, as I'll have to reinvent myself yet again. But, I've paid my dues.
posted @ 01:27PM EDT on Saturday, March 26th, 2011
WHAT'S TO DO HERE?
So, welcome to benturner.com. This site is very old, and much of what is here is out-of-date and was produced in the web's toddling days and when I was in high school/college. I leave it up for posterity, and you can find most of it from the sitemap.
Most people visit my autobiography first, to find out what I'm all about. I neglect to update it from time to time, but it covers my early formative experiences pretty well. Next, people will read the soapbox because it has about 400 essays I've written over the years, from rants to poems to social commentary.
My Robin Hood section gets the most traffic besides root hits. In it,
you can find loads of resources on the man of Sherwood.
"Hiro, you are such a geek. She's a woman, you're a dude. You're not SUPPOSED to understand her. That's not what she's after." "She doesn't want you to understand HER. She konws THAT'S impossible. She just wants you to understand YOURSELF. Everything else is negotiable." "You figure?" "Yeah. Definitely." "What makes you think I don't understand myself?" "It's just obvious. You're a really smart hacker and the greatest sword fighter in the world -- and you're delivering pizza and promoting concerts that you don't make any money off of. How do you expect her to --" -from "Snow Crash"