I was a speaker at the recent Festival of the Future, a national New Zealand national event supporting the next generation to spark & grow ideas for a better world. Over 300 professionals, thinkers, doers, and young innovators came together to celebrate ideas, innovation and action.
On Saturday 23 November 2013, I gave my presentation entitled The Power of Connections, in which I shared my story as a young innovator and youth tech advocate, and discussed some of the big lessons I’ve learnt along the way. You can watch my presentation above, and the rest of the festival’s videos are viewable here.
I am Youth Wellingtonian of the Year for 2013
It’s a huge honour to have had my work as a young innovator and youth tech advocate recognised at this year’s edition of the Wellingtonian of the Year awards, locally known as the Wellys, with the award of 2013 Youth Wellingtonian of the Year.
I’d like to express a huge thank you to my parents, who’ve been there for me at every step along the way, Scots College, and the Rotary Club of Wellington for their support. Wellington is a great place to be a young innovator, and I’d also like to thank everyone who makes it such great city, with so many opportunities.
I’m a finalist in the Wellys!
I recently discovered that I have been nominated and selected as a finalist in the youth category of the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards, affectionately known locally as the “Wellys”. These awards, run by the Dominion Post newspaper, celebrate individuals who “make the greater Wellington region the exciting and vibrant city it is - the coolest little capital in the world”.
It’s a great honour to be selected as one of the four finalists in the youth category from across the region, and to be listed alongside the names of the many impressive finalists from all the categories represented.
The winners of each of the categories, and the overall winner, will be announced at an awards gala on the 22nd of November.
I’m happy about my selection as a finalist, as it should help me get my message out there – that New Zealand, and particularly Wellington, has a great future in computer programming if only we can take advantage if this opportunity. This was what I was trying to convey in my Eureka! presentation. We don’t have to stick to exporting primary products. There are lots of niche, high technology sectors in which we can excel, and Wellington already had tons of great IT-focused companies which are doing really well, such as Xero and Greenbutton, whose CEO is a finalist in the business category of the Wellys.
The challenge is to get more kids interested in programming at an early stage, and this is where I can play a role. My Eureka! presentation argued that we need to capture kids’ interest early, while they’re still dreaming of being astronauts, superheroes and fairy princesses, and show them that programmers are the wizards of the future.
Wellington companies have a role to play in this too, and it’s great to see companies like Catalyst with their Open Source Academy initiative, which brings aspiring programmers together to learn and contribute to open source projects, and which I’m hoping to attend early next year.
This morning I was interviewed by Kim Hill, winner of the International Radio Personality of the Year Award, on Radio New Zealand National’s Saturday Morning show. I spoke with her about my experience with Eureka!, app development, and the International Baccalaureate World Student Conference on the subject of ECOnomics: Creating a Sustainable Future which I recently attended in Vancouver, Canada.
Appearing on National Radio for a 15 minute interview on a show with over 200,000 listeners was certainly a rather exceptional experience, and definitely a good accomplishment to cross off my bucket list!
You can listen to a recording of the interview in the player above.
Following on from my earlier post on being selected as finalist in the Eureka! Sir Paul Callaghan Awards for Young Science Orators, on the 12th of July 2013 I gave my presentation entitled “The Genesis Project: Creating the Talent New Zealand Needs” to the judging panel and audience assembled at Massey University here in Wellington. You can watch my presentation in the video above.
Preparing the presentation certainly took a lot of work, but this effort definitely paid off and was recognised with me being awarded the High School Highly Commended award, the highest award available to high schoolers. This award comes with a $2500 study grant.
The Eureka Symposium was a great oppourtunity to meet with other young science leaders and connect with people in industry who are interested in my work. I would strongly encourage all young people in New Zealand to consider entering the competition next year!
Update: I won the Highly Commended award! More info here.
I’ve been selected as one of twelve finalists in the 2013 Eureka Symposium, a New Zealand science and technology oratory competition ”set up to identify and foster young leaders who, through their knowledge of science, technology, engineering or mathematics, their entrepreneurial vision, and their persuasive communication skills, will [help New Zealand to become] the most beautiful, stimulating and exciting place in the world in which to live.”
I am promoting the expansion of computer programming education throughout the education system, particularly in primary schools. Watch my video above, and then take a read of my essay for a more detailed look at my proposal.
The next stage of the competition is a 12 minute presentation to a judging panel and 200 person audience at Massey University (Wellington) on the 12th of July. The presentations will be streamed live (I’ll post details close to the time), and (free) tickets can be booked here.
Celebrating Quicksand’s Success
The response to the release of Quicksand has been phenomenal. Since it was launched about three months ago, Quicksand has received fantastic reviews and been picked up by some pretty high-profile sites. For new visitors, Quicksand is a free app of mine which lets you automatically sync your recently opened files with the cloud!
To start with, lets look at Quicksand’s amazing users. Quicksand rapidly spread around the internet, and got several hundred users within a week of its launch. We can now boast of around 450 users a day taking advantage of Quicksand’s great features. People use the app from all over the world, from over 70 different countries, as you can see in the overflowing chart to the right (click for a larger, interactive version).
Interestingly, Quicksand’s use picks up over the working week quite noticeably and then drops down over the weekend, which suggests that many people are using the app at work. This is a great testament to how well people trust and appreciate Quicksand.
Speaking of appreciation, Quicksand has received fantastic coverage in by the media. Mac AppStorm rated the app 9 out of 10 stars, and wrote the following:
If you work at all with cloud syncing services such as Dropbox, then Quicksand is a must-have. Quicksand is a seemingly simple app that could potentially save you a lot of time and inconvenient situations.
– Mac AppStorm
Idealog, a New Zealand magazine, interviewed me about my projects, and commented that “Quicksand tackles a problem that hasn’t been addressed by Silicon Valley giants like Dropbox and Google." Other websites including MacWorld Norway and AddictiveTips also published very positive reviews. Users also responded very warmly to Quicksand, and it currently has a 5 star rating on MacUpdate.
In conclusion, I’m very happy with Quicksand’s success so far. It took a lot of work to develop, but it’s been truly fantastic to see the reaction online. I’ve got a couple more exciting new features on the way, and I look forward to continuing my journey syncing deeper into Quicksand.
Introducing Quicksand – sync your recently opened files with the cloud
It is with much pleasure that I announce the release of my new free app, Quicksand — the easiest way to sync your recently opened files with the cloud.
Quicksand lives quietly in your Mac’s menubar. Whenever you open or edit a file, Quicksand automatically copies it to a special folder synced with your favourite cloud storage solution (all Mac cloud storage solutions, including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive, are supported).
With traditional cloud storage solutions, only files within a special folder were synced, and you had to plan in advance to make sure that you had the files you needed. Quicksand makes this all so much easier, because you don’t have to think about what you sync with the cloud — Quicksand takes care of it all for you by automatically syncing your 50 most recently opened files.
To learn more about Quicksand, watch the video below, then visit the Quicksand page to download the app and revolutionise the way that you interact with the cloud.
Beta testers wanted for a new app
I’ve been working really hard over the past few months on an exciting new app for Macs. I feel it’s coming close to being ready for public use, but I want to make sure that it’s as perfect as it can be before I release it.
To do this, I need some beta testers. I’ve already got some, but I would like more! If you are interested in getting your hands on some pre-release software, reporting bugs, and eventually getting the app for free, please
send me a message mentioning which version of Mac OS X you are running.
Edit: Thanks to everyone who replied. I’ve got enough beta testers for now, and I’ll be sure to let you know if I need any more!
Edit 2: Quicksand, my new app, has now been released! Check it out here.
Celebrating MacDropAny’s Success
Today MacDropAny passed an amazing milestone: a grand total of 160,000 folders synced to the cloud. Since MacDropAny was released in February 2011, it’s been used by thousands of people in over 80 countries.
People love MacDropAny because it just works. It’s by far the most simple way to sync any folder on your Mac with a number of great cloud syncing services, allowing you to gain access to your important files from wherever you are.
Recently, with the release of version 2, more sync services were added so that MacDropAny now supports syncing with Dropbox, Box.com, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and iClouDrive. To support MacDropAny’s international user base, version 2 added support for French, Dutch, Spanish and German, making it even easier for people all over the world to use.
Here are some interesting statistics about MacDropAny:
- Over 160,000 folders have been synced with the cloud.
- Approximately 70% of MacDropAny’s users can use the app in their native language.
- The largest user group is from the United States (18% of users), followed by Germany (10%), Spain (8%), and France (7%).
- A folder is synced using MacDropAny, on average, once every 5 minutes.
I’ve received some fantastic feedback about MacDropAny. It’s rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on MacUpdate.com, and has been well reviewed in MacWorld, LifeHacker, Applesfera (in Spanish), Me Cambio a Mac (in Spanish) and many more sites.
None of this would have been possible without the amazing support of MacDropAny’s users and the amazing people who donate to help support continued development. MacDropAny is free, and this is only possible because of users’ kind generosity. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated, tweeted, blogged, helped with bug testing and translated for me – without you guys, MacDropAny wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today.
MacDropAny is constantly evolving (and hopefully improving too!). If you’ve got a suggestion for a new feature, a new service to sync folders with, or just want to say hello, please feel free to send me a message.
Sebastian Hallum Clarke (MacDropAny’s 15 year old developer)