Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Computer whiz whips Windows

Isaac Mercer says his computer operating system is more efficient and faster than Windows. Photo / Richard Robinson
Isaac Mercer says his computer operating system is more efficient and faster than Windows. Photo / Richard Robinson

A love of computer gadgets and being overly curious about how things work have proven to be a winning recipe for one Auckland teenager.

Isaac Mercer, 14, has been shortlisted in the Google Science Fair 2014 competition.

He has been named a finalist in the Asia Pacific region and is one of only 30 finalists in the region in his age category.

The year 9 student at Glendowie College decided to enter the competition after seeing it advertised online last August.

"I thought: 'Well that might be interesting'." Isaac, who admits he is a little crazy about computers, began thinking about an idea for his entry.

"I wanted to create a project that would speed up computers and things. I worked on it a little bit and it sort of came to me after a couple of weeks."

The result was a computer operating system, similar to Microsoft Windows, that would be easy and fast to use.

"You install it on your computer and basically it's an alternative to Windows ... it allows you to do everything that Windows does - but it's more efficient and faster. It's simple and it runs faster on computers."

The most important aspect of his system, however, was that the software could be used on older computers - to help reduce the huge number of computer machines and e-waste that end up in landfills all around the world each year.

"[The software] was made for people who are using older operating systems on their computers that were not being supported any more."

He also wanted to make something that would be affordable and easily accessed by people living in developing countries.

Isaac is one of just two New Zealand youngsters who have been named as finalists in the competition.

The other finalist is 14-year-old Ayla Hutchinson, of Taranaki.

Ayla's creation, the Kindling Cracker, was developed after her mother hurt herself with an axe while chopping kindling.

She came up with the idea of creating a cradle-like base to hold a stationary blade.

A person could then place a piece of wood into the cradle and on top of the blade and, using a mallet, strike the piece of wood - cutting it safely.

A total of 15 entries will be announced as the winners in early August.

The winners will get to travel to search giant Google's headquarters, in the US, where they will showcase their creations.

- NZ Herald

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