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Personal Blog

It's that time of year again!

My Halloween theme is now active as it activates on the 15th of October every year. I mentioned before how this was done with JavaScript, since then in an attempt to cut back the JavaScript on my website I have moved this to a server-side functionality. This should in turn reduce the amount of stuff downloaded.

Enjoy

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
halloween
jamie
balfour
theme

I don't often post now about updating my website but as this is the first real change to my website since I designed the HTML structure of the page in November 2012 in version 2.0 of my website I am putting it up so I can remember this day.

You may know that my website is built with a structure that keeps the content and sidebar separate. This structure has followed the following pattern (each of these are IDs to divs on the page):

html > body > #container > #page > #main_content > #textZone > article > *

Where the * represents all of the content of the page. Now I have decided to drop #textZone and #main_content is now just #content:

html > body > #container > #page > #content > article > *

This shorter name reduces the size of the CSS file by ~120 bytes and reduces the JavaScript file by ~100 bytes. It also reduces the number of elements on the display. 

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
website
update
balfour

Today my tutorials have finally become recognised! An online company known as Udemy sent me this email:

Hi Jamie,

I was doing some research for our students here at Udemy on people using PHP resources and when I came across your site, saw you were using the tutorial from w3schools.

We really like that resource, and actually created our own that we think is a perfect supplement! This PHP tutorial is text-and image based, easy to search for quick answers, and super helpful for anyone: as a base for learning or as a reference guide. 

Do you think this would be a helpful resource? If so, please use it on your site. I'd love to see more people learning PHP!

Thanks so much, 
Tiffany

This makes me feel so proud of what I have achieved with my website and will go in my list of recommendations! 

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
tutorials
udemy
php
sql
mysql
vb
.net
html
css

I am very, very happy to announce a new menu on my website! This is the fifth new menu on my website and this one is absolutely here to stay!

The reason I know this one is staying is because I made it - meet JBBar.

As part of my Neutral Web controls I decided to create a menu that is responsive and looks similar to my previous one.

I previously used jQuery SmartMenus, which gave me inspiration for my own menu. The theme is designed to look suitable for BootStrap but also to give maximum flexibility.

The source is written in JavaScript and SCSS, so it's easy to modify. In comparison to SmartMenus, my menu is so lightweight that it barely makes a difference including it - just 272 lines of code in the SCSS file at the time of writing this post.

In order for me to get SmartMenus to work on my website the way I wanted, I had to do a lot of alteration to the code. I also had to use the BootStrap theme and cut it down as much as possible to make it work as I needed it to. My menu is so simple that it just gives the basic JavaScript functionalities and the core of what is needed. It's also miles easier to update and tailored to how I want it.

You probably will not notice any difference in the design. The differences are so subtle that perhaps the change was only necessary for back-end reasons and not for front-end aesthetics.

There is still a lot needing done on the menu, but the general front-end functionality is done. You will notice it is now available across the whole website.

I also have added a new section to my menu called Projects. This section currently redirects you to the appropriate pages on my website but soon will be a dedicated section again, specifically for projects that are current or completed.

Old menu

The SmartMenus menu I used before

New menu

The new menu called JBBar that I have created myself

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
website
update
jbbar
menu
new

I have begun work on my new MySQL tutorial. This is the fifth tutorial on my website.

On top of this, I have created a collection of really colourful icons for each tutorial based on the colours associated with the languages.

I hope you have enjoyed my tutorials so far and that the MySQL tutorial is as enjoyable! 

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
mysql
sql
tutorial
jamie
balfour
php

Well, despite the new changes coming in on Monday last week, I have had several messages saying they liked the grey design on my website and did not like the dark sidebar I was testing. 

I am happy that I received this feedback as I also agree with those people since going back. Thankfully, I left the CSS in the file but gave the sidebar a new class that changed it to the dark mode. 

I came up with a slightly new design for the sidebar just this afternoon that I feel makes a much flatter, better design. I hope you like this as this should be the final modification to the website for a long time.

Most of my focus is on improving my blog at the moment.

Anyway, I'm off to enjoy the remaining three days of my holidays now!

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
site
changes
reverted

I sometimes just sit down and look through my own website for criticism rather than anything else.

My website has become the HUB of everything I do now. You can find out about me, read tutorials by me, find my CV, find photos of my places I've been, my life, family and pets and more, access my university stuff, download and read about my software, here what I have to say and more.

I don't often sit down and review my website but as I've got a chance, I'd like to tell you the truth about some recent events.

As one person knows, the person I know who cares about my website and one of my best friends in life, I considered completely getting rid of all the work on my website and changing my website entirely to Bootstrap, convinced that it was time for a major change. 

To me now, the very fact that I was thinking this was even silly. I say this because I now know this website is me. I've built it.

I've had some comments from lecturers, friends and family and lots of others who have said my website is nice. But to me, there is always a need to change it more and more as you will have seen if you come here to view my blog or whatever on a regular basis or something.

The only problem is, whenever I write an article, tutorial or blog post or something, I always get distracted and end up changing something on the site. 

I'm trying not to modify my website any more at all - trying to keep it consistent I think is what I'm trying to say.

I'd like to point out that alpha.jamiebalfour.com, a subsite of this website, is nothing more than a concept - even it's front page explains that I never thought about doing that!

The alpha site never came to be the future of my website. It was overloaded with things I didn't need and it didn't represent me the way my own styled website does.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
website
jamie
balfour
jamiebalfour.com

I am experimenting a slightly new design with the sidebar on my website at the moment.

Instead of the standard white sidebar, I have taken inspiration from one of the websites I built a couple of days ago for a company. 

Feedback on that company website has been really powerful - most of which stated they liked dark sidebar and the bright content section. They also said they preferred the left hand sidebar to the right hand sidebar.

All of this got me thinking about my own website design too. So I decided to implement it here too. 

For a long time, I have been looking into new ways to improve my website, particularly the desktop website as I really like the mobile and tablet versions of the site (this comes from the fact that they had more skill put into them as I had learned more by then).

My mobile and tablet website stay exactly how they were before - perfect.

If you like or dislike, let me know. 

Oh and I will be bringing a new feedback form to my desktop website.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
site
website
changes

I had been planning a single login system for all for quite some time but now it is finally here!

My single login for all is cross-domain between all of my subsites and both the .com and .co.uk sites. It also works on the blog, so if you are a member of my blog it's easy to login to it now, using the same way you are used to with the standard login page.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
single
login
system

If you visit my gallery a lot, you may notice that the photos are often slow to load and slow the page loading down. Well not anymore!

Thanks to a new script I produced for it, images load asynchronously with the main page and no longer slow down the download speed.

As a result, images take a few seconds more to load fully, but the page will load completely around them.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
gallery
update
website