My Past and Current Work
I got into software in 2002 at highschool, where I was taught QuickBASIC. Since then, I've worked on projects small and large, and mostly Open Source. Along the way, I've mastered PHP, HTML and CSS, done well with PostgreSQL, Perl and Linux, dabbled in Python and Ruby, forgot QuickBASIC and wish that I'd never learned MySQL. Here's an account of what I've done with my skills along the way.
Shoptime Software (2009-)
In 2009 I quit my job to found Shoptime Software with Martyn Smith. We're both skilled software developers, and I in particular wanted to change my life, so we founded the company as part of working on Get Your Game On.
It's my hope that we can make a living by using our skills to build useful things that make others' lives better.
Get Your Game On!
Once live, GYGO will allow anyone to easily run a competition online. If you've ever had to manage a competition of some sort, whether it be a football tournament or a LAN gaming event, you'll know how hard it can be. So we're planning to take the pain right out of the problem.
Get Your Game On is built on open source technology. We're endeavouring to be good open source citizens by contributing back bugfixes or features that we need, and releasing some parts of our codebase if we think they could be useful elsewhere.
If it sounds interesting, you should head over and sign up, so we can notify you when it's available.
Standby Task Force
In 2011 I volunteered to help for a few disasters, namely the Queensland Floods, Christchurch Earthquake and Alabama Tornadoes. My efforts were largely around ensuring that the various online crisis maps, created to help the public get realtime information, were able to handle the heavy strain they were subject to.
The Christchurch Earthquake hit particularly close to home, not just because it was a mere few hundred kilometers from where I live, but because by all rights it "should" have happened to Wellington instead. Wellington sits on many faultlines, and is considered overdue for a large quake.
I resolved to do something to ensure that when Wellington gets hit, the technical response will have built on the lessons we learned from Christchurch. As a result, I joined, and then became the leader, of the Standby Task Force Tech Team.
The SBTF is a global team of volunteers who are ready to spring into action at a moments notice for any major disaster. We (the tech team) are working on automating the deployment Ushahidi instances, so that within minutes of a disaster occurring, a crisis map is available for the local population to use.
In 2006 I joined the Catalyst team that wrote Mahara and created the open source community around it. After the inital development was completed, I eventually fell into the role of Lead Developer, until I left Catalyst in December 2009 to found my startup.
Before we began on the project, e-portfolios were virtually unheard of. Mahara changed all that - while it didn't create the market, it was the first portfolio solution to actually be good enough and within reach of universities and schools across the world. This was mainly because it was free software, built on the LAMP stack - but Mahara has many other things going for it, such as the Views system, the cleanly architectured codebase, Moodle integration and a vibrant community at mahara.org.
I lead the development and managed the core infrastructure for the Mahara project for over two years. In that time, it grew to being used by tens of thousands of students on hundreds of installations worldwide, with a few thousand downloads each month. But I felt the most successful part was the community. mahara.org thrived with teachers, developers, academia and more all learning from each other. I think we had only one flamewar during that time.
It was a blast, and I enjoyed the time I spent on it, but I felt it was time for me to try and use my skills to forge a living for myself. Thus, in late 2009, I resigned to found Shoptime.
GeSHi is a PHP library for producing syntax highlighted code on the fly. It was created largely through trial and error back in 2004, and has gone from humble beginnings to being the definitive syntax highlighting solution for PHP, and by extension, many different software products like DokuWiki, Mambo and Joomla!.
Many more software products provide a GeSHi plugin, such as Xoops, Wordpress and MediaWiki. GeSHi has been packaged by Debian and now is downloaded over 100 times a day. But perhaps the coolest thing about it is that it's used to syntax highlight the source code examples on Wikipedia example.
I handed off the reins to Benny Baumann, who had always shown interest in the project, in 2007. Where the project goes from here is up to him. It was a great way for me to get into the open source world, but my Mahara duties made it too hard to concentrate on both projects at once.
I got it through the first 70,000 downloads. May it live on for 70,000 more! 
QuickBASIC days (2002-05)
I was first taught programming back at high school. I had thought that I wanted to be a pilot or architect up until then, but that was until I found out how insanely fun writing computer games was. We had a class project for which we could write whatever program we wanted, and I beavered away for hours on end at home and school to create my first masterpiece.
It was a 3,000 line cross between Final Fantasy VII and a Tamagotchi. You had a creature to look after/feed, it fought battles with other creatures from time to time, it could get limit breaks, go up levels and evolve into bigger creatures. It was great fun, except for my teacher, who had to mark the code on paper. I think it was 18 pages of 6pt Garamond when printed, not least because I double-spaced my lines back then.
That lead to a fascination with QuickBASIC that lead me to Qbasicnews. I spent hours on the forums, writing code and chatting with others from around the world, eventually rising to become a site admin. I simultaneously started qbnz.com (now dead), thinking I could have a cool QBasic website too. My site didn't have the best forums, but I did have the largest collection of QBasic programs and illegally copied compilers for a long time.
The whole site was completely static, I didn't know about PHP early on, but I became fascinated with the forum software used on qbnz and qbasicnews (phpBB), and got involved there as well. I had great fun hacking it heavily, and one day I thought "wouldn't it be great if the QBasic source we post on the forums was highlighted?" That's what lead to GeSHi.
GeSHi actually started out as a function in some phpBB include script, I installed early versions of it on QBasicnews (breaking it several times in the process), until I found out about OO programming at uni and realised GeSHi would be better written that way.
|||As of February 2010, it has 130,000 downloads, so it seems likely it will make it. That's just downloads from sourceforge, so it doesn't include downloads of other software that bundle GeSHi (like Dokuwiki).|