Category Archives: apps

Google Chromecast in our boardroom

“The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed” famously quipped cyber-punk authorWilliam Gibson in 1993. And in a very small way that is evident when little gadgets come out. Recently our Reactive brethren in the US were able to purchase a Google Chromecast, ahead of us here Down Under. But collaborative folks as they are, Carl Panczak and his NYC crew sent a device our way. So that we could experience the future!


Chromecast is a small extension to your TV or boardroom display, essentially giving you the ability to display what’s happening in your browser (be it on the phone, tablet or desktop). In a nutshell: Send video or anything on the Web to your TV from your smartphone, tablet or laptop (as it says on the box). The fact that it uses your local Wifi to receive the content makes the performance quite appealing.


We waited for a proper software update from Google (the original version wasn’t that smooth) plus Google only recently made the Chromecast manager app available for Australia. This meant we could finally set it up via our Android phone. Install the Chrome extension from here. And the Chrome browser has a new functionality currently in experimental stage that will cast your whole screen to the TV, which definitely makes this a promising (and cheaper) alternative to Apple TV.

Here are a few resources on how to use it. Sadly, some of the apps (like Netflix or Hulu) are still only available if you are of the American persuasion: Google Chromecast Home

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So next time you come visit us at Reactive Sydney, you can expect to enter the future.


Innovation powers Reactive ‘Code And Snags’ BBQ

Take some of the brightest and most cutting edge developers in Australia, add a few high profile international speakers from companies such as Google, Financial Times and MailChimp, throw in cold beers, tasty sausages and a sunny balcony and you got the Reactive ‘Code and Snags BBQ’. As part of the renowned ‘Web Directions South‘ conference (currently underway in Sydney) we hosted an impressive group of technical experts who are busy creating the future of the web.


Walking through the crowd, you could hear our own Reactive ubergeeks discussing all kinds of questions with our guests, from the most pressing ones to the most decidedly esoteric. When was the last time you were chatting about musical robots, a metadata language for designers, the future of animation, why the Apple Newton lost to the Palm Pilot and finally the Internet of Things, all within an hour or two? Among our most esteemed visitors was Scott Jenson who used to work on the Apple Newton, Symbian OS, managed the Google mobile UX team and also spent time at Frog Design in California. Please check his blog for great thoughts on how to combine on- and offline in the Internet of Things (IOT).CodeAndSnagsBlog02-a4e6c02e-4c66-4e8a-afce-e42a25b32d76-0-400x1215

Drifting through our event was not only the scent of our grilled snags. It was (more metaphorically speaking) the question of ‘what it takes to innovate’. And the answer was present in the group of guests: a lot of experience and skills plus an insatiable appetite for combining things in a new way. And we are curious what these bright minds will come up with next. 

Like writing? You’ll love Draft

As I like writing more and more (even though my background is more in design and UX) I love the Draft site (HT to Nic Hodges). It lets you focus on writing and nothing else. Interruptions from colleagues and clients excluded, no one can stop them.

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Draft documents can now easily be published to WordPress and Tumblr from inside Draft. Go to Settings -> Places to Publish. You’ll then get a Publish button next to your documents.

The rest below is about the new Chrome extension, actually a direct copy+paste from the creative developer Nate Kontny (his site Ninja and Robots) in Chicago, who is behind Draft:

“Bookmarklets and browser extensions like Instapaper, Evernote’s Clearly, and Readability make reading anything on the web simple, focused, and gorgeous. Why can’t writing be that way?

So here’s a Chrome extension that lets you.

Any webpage that you can write on, you can now use Draft with. Your blog, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, even comment boxes on websites like Reddit and Hacker News.

Just place your cursor in the box you want to write in, click the Chrome Draft extension, and Draft will open up in a new Chrome Tab. Choose an already written document or something new to write in Draft (any text from the original text box will carry over).

When you’re done, there’s a menu button to paste your work back into the text box you came from.

All of a sudden, everything you write everywhere is focused, versioned, and able to be shared with friends for help before you publish. I hope you like it. This might be the handiest and neatest thing I’ve ever made. 🙂

Click here to access the Draft Chrome extension.

I’ve also open sourced the Chrome extension in case anyone wants to make it better or start similar projects for Firefox and Safari.

Finally, the past couple weeks I’ve improved a lot of other things. For example:

Google Drive syncing is a lot better.
Draft is much more usable now on narrow devices like iPads in landscape mode.
There is a CTRL+r/CMD+r shortcut to switch between edit and view modes.
It’s been a really exciting couple weeks since I launched Draft. The feedback and support have been incredible. Thank you so much for the help, the criticism, and the motivation.

Stay tuned. Draft has so much more in store to help us become better writers. I’m just getting started.


Code, Snags and Developer Gurus

The very first event I organised since joining Reactive’s Sydney office was ‘Code and Snags‘, and despite being drummed up pretty much last minute, it was a fabulous success. Some of the uber-developers from Web Directions South including conference director John Allsopp and some of his speakers attended our little shindig in Surry Hills.

Very special mention goes out to three of our guests:
Josh Clark, author of O’Reilly book ‘Tapworthy – mobile design and UX‘, currently working on mobile content experiences for the New York Times. Chatting with him actually inspired the title of my next talk at NEWTup.
Douglas Crockford, author of ‘Javascript – the good parts‘ who with his book majorly influenced how Javascript is being used today.
Paul, part of the team behind ‘Light – by Moore’s Cloud‘, a lamp driven by a web connected mini computer. It is completely open-source and has hit Kickstarter (go, pledge!). See  the lamp’s website here.

It’s safe to say that everyone had a good chinwag over beers and snags – and some serious developer bro-mance was in the air! Reactive Melbourne’s Tech Director Troy and a few of his Melbourne team later joined us for the conference itself – nice write ups of the conference speakers here on Sharepoint and here on Everguide.

Electronic Tinkering in The Rocks

The Rocks is a very pretty and tourist-friendly destination. And as I keep discovering through the council’s pop-up initiative, it is also fertile ground for creative experimentation. The case in hand is ‘&Company’ who have temporarily taken over a store next to the MCA.

Apart from showcasing emerging design talents they are offering quality hands-on creative workshops. Courses range from ‘Powertools for Girls‘ (no, nothing kinky going on here) to ‘Interactive Electronic Objects‘.

I took the latter which was an introductory course into Arduino, the open-source microcontroller / software suite for programming. And I had a blast tinkering away my Sunday, plugging cables into speakers, triggering LED lights and getting my hands dirty with (processing-based) code. There is an intermediate course still available – get amongst it!

top 2 images by &Company