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About Jamie Balfour

This page is has a lot about me, including my favourite things as well as my background. If you are genuinely interested in this stuff, please feel free to read on. If you are interested in me professionally, please look to my CV.

Short bio

My name is Jamie Bonnar Balfour. I am also known as Binary Balfour.

I am a Scottish computer scientist who loves all technology with a particular love for software programming, web design and web development as well as writing about technology. I also share my love with education, and really love teaching people the stuff I know.

I currently hold a Bachelor of Science (BSc) with a First Class Honours from Heriot-Watt University.

My main hobbies include writing about technology and computer science (hardware, programming, user experience and web design/development particularly), going to the pub, playing games, video editing and exploring the country (I particularly love rivers and mountains of Scotland and the places surrounding them). I also love electronics and electricity in general (and that whole part of physics), politics and history.

Me as a kid

Me as a child

My timeline

1991

Born

I was born to Fiona and Roger Balfour in 1991. I lived in Edinburgh in Scotland for the first few years of my life.

1996

I start primary school and get my first family computer

I begin primary education at age 5. I meet two of my longest and best friends, Calum and Nick.

We get our first family computer manufactured by the company Tiny running an Intel Pentium II a 400MHz with a 1GB hard disk drive.

We also get connected to the Internet this year and we experienced Top Of The Pops streaming from the Internet.

1997

My first computer

My first computer was a Unika Pentium III 600MHz. It was our first computer to feature USB ports and PCI slots rather than just ISA slots (although it did feature these too). From using this computer more and more, I became more interested in how computers work. It would not be long after that I dismantle my computer and look inside for the first time.

Also in 1997, I got my first laptop computer, a hand-me-down Olivetti P75 from my dad.

2001

I become competent with computers

I took a big interest in computing in 2001, when I wrote my very first short stories on the computer using Microsoft Publisher, without the aid of my parents. I would submit these to my teacher who was more impressed by the fact I was doing this on a computer without my parents' help at the age of 10.

2002

Warcraft III introduces me to programming

When Warcraft III came out I became very interested in trigger editing and how logic works on a computer. This was the first experience I had at programming (and also the release of my favourite game of all time).

We also got broadband this year, which meant I could enjoy the Internet without needing everyone off the phone. I became very fascinated by the Internet and start using it more and more.

2003

I start secondary school

I begin secondary school at age 12. After a short period of time, I decide I want to go into a computing related job. I find out that I enjoy teaching and helping people understand things. I met some of my best friends in this year.

2004

The first computer I selected and I wrote my first program in VBA

I chose my own computer for the first time, a Packard Bell EasyNote. I take a huge interest in computers.

My first ever application was a small script to work in Microsoft Word that taught me how Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) works.

2005

My first webpage and I pickup VB.NET

In 2005 I built my first ever HTML webpage. This was very basic and was written in an old version HTML. The page was all about the history of my favourite sport, badminton.

I also began to look into programming before learning it at school starting with the popular VB.NET language.

I also use SUSE Linux 9.0 for a whole 4 months as my main operating system.

2006

I begin programming at school

In school I had a headstart at programming since I had been self-teaching myself VB.NET. At school we used Visual Basic 6, which was nothing like VB.NET. I found it difficult to remember what was what because VB.NET changed so much, but I had learned enough that made it possible for me to excel at this.

I release beta versions of both FusionScape and Wonderword to my friends at school.

2008

Initial release of Painter Pro

The first major release of any of my own software was Painter Pro (version 1.2, aka St Andrews) was a major milestone for me - it had become something that people found useful.

Later that year I also released my first version of Wonderword to be ready for release and start using it for all of my school essays.

2009

I get into university to study Computer Science

When I finished at my secondary school I received the confirmation that I had got into several universities. I accepted my favourite choice at the time of a BSc in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

I built my first gaming PC and my first desktop computer system this year. It featured an Intel Core 2 Quad.

2010

Big software releases and university

In April of this year I built and launched a website with no real aim. Version 1.0 was built with my host's template system.

I release Painter Pro and my BlackRabbit Script is designed and theorised.

2011

I release BlackRabbit and I buy my first Mac

Early 2011 saw me release BlackRabbit Script, my scripting language for automating tasks using .NET.

I bought my first Mac OS X powered MacBook Pro in October 2011, making the switch from being an all-Windows user to a *nix user for the first time.

2012

University and website rebuild

In 2012 I restarted my BSc in Computer Science and quickly made lots of great new friends.

I also began to learn web development and rebuilt my website in November.

2013

Website rebuild (2013)

My website gets it's big refurbishment just ahead of our first web development course at university. Version 2.0 was released in January and version 3.0 in June of 2013. The version 3.0 update focused more on a responsive design and building everything from the bottom up.

I also took on freelance web development at this point and within weeks of finishing my own I had two websites to develop.

2014

Work begins on ZPE

I began work on my biggest project - the Zenith Parsing Engine, a compiler and interpreter for ZenLang, my own custom language.

Sadly I also lost one of my best friends, Petro.

2015

Work begins on my Web Neutral Project

I refurbished what was called JBlogs into BalfBlog and began work on BalfBar and BalfRibbon this year under my Web Neutral Project - all of these lightweight projects are designed to improve the customisability of a website with a few clicks.

I officially declare the end of my software in .NET and become a multi-platform developer in Java.

I also become a teaching assistant and get the experience of running a class.

2016

ClickIt becomes live, I graduate with a first and begin my PhD

As my BSc Honours project, I launch ClickIt, a drag and drop HTML editor designed to encourage and assist younger users into web development.

Despite never believing it would be possible for me to get a first class honours in my degree after all the struggles with my health previously, I eventually got there.

I took on a PhD at Heriot-Watt University researching how to keep children with autism safe online.

2017

I leave my PhD and find a new career

I realised that my PhD was not for me any longer and decided to move on to a new career on the 19th of January 2017 at Maglabs.

I left Maglabs and went to work briefly for DH Systems before leaving that and starting my own business, Jambour Digital.

2018

Website rebuild (2018)

In late 2017 I began to rebuild my personal website. In January 2018 I re-released it. When released it could cope with up to six times more concurrent requests than version 3.

I finally get on track to get into and start teacher training. I also start my own digital consultantcy business under the name Jambour Digital ltd. I also got the opportunity to help kids learn code at the local Code Club.

My family

My mother's side

My nana, Jean Paterson, was a wonderful woman and a huge inspiration in my life. She also was the granddaughter of John Paterson, the founder of Paterson's (who manufacture oatcakes and other food) who worked hard to build the future that my nana then enjoyed.

My grandfather, Alexander McKenzie, was an Aberdonian, who was lucky enough (or worked hard enough) to get into Cambridge University in England to read Law, before being called into fight for the country during the Second World War, where he fought on the AA guns on the coast of the British Isles. He later became the manager and editor of both the Scottish Financial Times and the Belfast Times.

When they married, they had two children, one of them being my mother.

My mother has always really worked in the financial sector in her career and she is incredibly clever when it comes to business and finances (hence why she is the financial manager of Jambour Digital).

My father's side

Sadly, I do not know much about my father's side of the family.

My grandmother, Marion McMillian, was a wonderful lady, who taught me a lot of things, least of all how to speak properly, but also gave me a lot of my morals, including why I do not smoke, why I do not drink excessively and why I became proud of Scotland. She had several different jobs, including working in a bank.

My father's father, James Balfour, passed away early in my father's life and I never got to meet him.

My father has worked as a chemist on an oil platform, a financial advisor and then worked in IT as a computer hardware consultant.

Throughout the years we've had many pets. You can read about all of my pets in my life here.

What I believe in...

In the computing industry I am happy to say that I am a supporter of HTML5, open-source programming, FireWire, DisplayPort, HDMI, Thunderbolt and tablet computing.

I also have educational beliefs that all children are entitled to free education.

Companies I follow

My two favourite companies are Apple and Nintendo who I look at as the leaders in their market as well as the one who have a huge fan base that other companies can only dream of.

I also love:

  • Amazon
  • Asus
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • Corsair
  • Gigabyte
  • Logitech
  • Microsoft
  • Panasonic
  • Razer
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Tesla

Inspirational people

This is a list of people who have inspired me or I just find inspiring.

Elon Musk is the most inspirational person I have ever followed. He is, in my personal opinion, one of the greatest people to have lived for his work with electric cars and pushing for a better car, SpaceX and his general charisma. He also inspired me due to his co-creating one of the best services on the web, PayPal.

  • Alan Turing
  • Andy Murray
  • Bill Gates
  • Charles Kennedy
  • Lord David Steel
  • David Lloyd George
  • Larry Page
  • Matt Bellmay
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Lord Paddy Ashdown
  • Roger Federer
  • Robert Downey Jr
  • Robin Williams
  • Serge Pizzorno
  • Steve Jobs
  • Baroness Shirley Williams
  • Tim Cook
  • Sir Tom Farmer

Favourites

Music

I love rock music but I also love a bit of dance music.

My favourite bands are Oasis, Kasabian, Muse and Pendulum.

I also love music from Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey. I'm very much a fan of other musics including Morrisey, The Enemy, Elvis, BRMC and of course Robbie Williams.

Gaming

I like to remember that the first game I ever played was an MS-DOS game called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, which has now evolved into Starcraft II and World Of Warcraft. Since first playing Warcraft, Blizzard have always made my favourite games - Warcraft of some kind has always been there.

You can also find out more about my interest in gaming and some tools I have developed for some of these games here.

My favourite game genre is strategy. The list of favourite games can be found in my articles, but here are the top 15. Like all 'top lists' this is subject to change.

The list is generated from the number of hours I predict I will have played of the game mixed with what I think should go where.

  1. Warcraft III (and The Frozen Throne)
  2. Age of Empires II
  3. Command and Conquer 95
  4. Diablo II
  5. The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
  6. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  7. Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (remakes of my favourite Pokémon games)
  8. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  9. Super Mario Odyssey
  10. Starcraft II
  11. Diablo III
  12. Super Smash Bros for 3DS / Super Smash Bros for Wii U (the latest Super Smash Bros game)
  13. Minecraft
  14. Metroid Prime
  15. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge

These games are only in alphabetical order (sorted using my list sorter from my old website).

  • 007: Nightfire
  • Age of Empires III
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
  • Command and Conquer 3
  • Croc 2
  • Croc Legend of the Gobbos
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
  • Forza 4
  • F-Zero GX
  • Goldeneye N64
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Halo 3
  • Mario 64
  • Mario Party 4
  • Mario Party 5
  • Mario Sunshine
  • Metroid Prime: Echoes
  • Pikmin
  • Pikmin 2
  • Pikmin 3
  • Pokemon Colliseum
  • Pokemon Gold and Silver
  • Pokemon Red and Blue
  • Pokemon X/Y
  • Soul Calibur II
  • Spyro The Dragon
  • Star Wars The Clone Wars
  • Starfox Adventures
  • Super Smash Bros Melee
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
  • Warcraft Orcs and Humans

Films and TV

Everyone knows that I am a James Bond series fan. I love them from start to finish, Sean Connery to Daniel Craig. Other films I like include:

  • Airforce One
  • Christopher Nolan's Batman
  • Die Hard 1
  • Executive Decision
  • Enemy of the State
  • Harry Potter series
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Insidious
  • Iron Man
  • James Bond
  • Jaws 1
  • Jurassic Park & Jurassic World
  • Men In Black series
  • Patriot Games
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Resident Evil
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Spiderman series
  • Stars Wars
  • Taken 1 & 2
  • The Descent
  • The Eagle Has Landed
  • The Fast and the Furious
  • The Hobbit films
  • The Mist
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Under Seige
  • Unknown
  • Wanted
  • Where Eagles Dare
  • Zoolander

My favourite actor, who appears in at least four of the films I love, is Christopher Lee (The Man With The Golden Gun, The Hobbit, Star Wars, Sleepy Hollow). I also love Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained, Spectre to name a few) My other favourite actors are is the amazing Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter and Alice In Wonderland) as well as the amazing Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland).

In terms of TV shows/series, Game of Thrones is number one. It is followed by The Walking Dead, Spooks and Hustle as being my favourites.

Places

I am a huge fan of Perthshire - Scotland's Heartland. I love the mountains ranging from Schiehallion to Ben Lawers and the Glenshee mountain range, as well as the hundreds of lochs in Perthshire ranging from the first loch I ever stayed on; Loch Earn to Loch Tay to Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel and the rivers such as the Tay, Tummel, Garry, Isla, Earn and more, all of which make Perthshire the perfect place to be.

One of my favourite things about the world is confluence of rivers, I am quite interested in the point where two rivers become one, I don't know why I have the interest but I find it fascinating.

Technologies I know

I currently know the following technologies:

My website

Whilst you can read more about this website and it's technical information here, I thought I might explain it very quickly here. I built this site with the intention of gaining an online presence and nothing more.

As support has kept growing this website has gained much more success and potential and has expanded to have more than that. I have now got my own blog, hosted on my own website, tutorials for web developers and programmers and so much more. I can finally share the information I wanted to on the web without being restricted.

I am very proud of my website, which I have built from the ground up, and would encourage you to leave feedback.

Interesting projects

The following are a few of the projects that interest me:

Command and Conquer 95 in HTML5 and JavaScript - not only is my third favourite game of all time, but as a web developer this really is something amazing!

Renegade X - again a Command and Conquer game, this time a community based game created as a spur from Command and Conquer Renegade. It's quite amazing.

Hubble Heritage Project - one of my favourite sites for photos of space. These photos are taken by the Hubble telescope and placed on the internet so we can see them! It really is quite amazing!

Dawn of the Tiberium Age (DTA) - one of my favourite and oldest games remade with tons of new features that make it even more incredible! Best of all, it's free!