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Personal Blog

I was extremely pleased to see Alan Turing being put on the UK's new £50 note. What's more impressive, however, is the attention to detail in this note.

You see the binary string that is on the note that reads 1010111111110010110011000 actually converts to the binary number 23061912 which, believe it or not, is the date Alan Turing was born - 23rd of June 1912.

I found this out from a friend who sent me the following Tweet:

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
alan
turing
note
£50

Version 1.3 of BalfBar is here and it's is by far the cleanest, simplest and most beautiful version of the amazing responsive menu bar that I have developed to date.

A major new feature has now finally made it into it. So not only can you have dropdowns in the desktop mode, but you can now have what I call mega menus (previously content menus). These menus are able to contain more than just a list of items - they can contain anything, for example, a login form, a dropdown box - whatever you like. Further to that, to retain compatibility with existing implementations, the mega menu no longer requires the whole menu to follow that pattern and can be nicely mixed with existing dropdowns!

Posted by J B Balfour in BalfBar
balfbar
wnp

I've been planning on getting BalfComment up and running for a long time and now it's finally here. I'm close to adding this to my own website and will start with my own ZPE Documentation pages.

Once again, BalfComment is neutral to designs.

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balfcomment

I recently encountered an article that actually made me think about the way that BalfBar was designed. This article discussed how important it is for something such as BalfBar to be able to support a variety of different users such as those who don't use or permit JavaScript on their website.

Well, as of today, BalfBar supports those people. BalfBar also loads instantly now, so no longer do you need to wait whilst the JavaScript is loaded. If BalfBar hasn't fully loaded by the time the user starts using it because of the JavaScript not fully loading, the user will instead use a CSS version of the menu. 

This is not all I have brought to the menu that is now used on all of the websites I have developed. I have brought many new features to the SCSS file that include the ability to have the top items display differently to the internal items as was the case on my own website. There are other minor changes, mainly focused on the SCSS file to make it easier to tailor it to your website.

Also coming soon to BalfBar with BalfBar 1.3 is the megamenu. I have already got a few of these working how I'd like them to but need to add in an option for mobile before it is released.

Posted by J B Balfour in BalfBar
balfbar
wnp

So it's that time in my life where I change browser again, which seems to be a regular thing for me. So much so that in my bookmarks folder there is a folder called Imported from Firefox which contains a folder called From Google Chrome which contains a folder called Imported from Safari which contains a folder called Imported from IE. 😂

Chrome 76 is just around the corner, looking to a July 30th release this year, and it brings about a feature that the latest version of Firefox also includes. I speak of dark mode.

Dark mode is becoming a more and more popular thing with websites these days. And rightly so since developers like myself tend to be more drawn to the dark interfaces in the development programs (IDEs and text editors) that we use for the majority of our work. Well, now it's coming to browsers and Firefox already has it implemented. 

Twitter and Facebook etc all have their own dark modes, but they are not implemented how it should be. The dark mode should be based on the operating system - both Windows 10 and macOS implement a system-wide dark mode that applications should be implementing too. 

Chrome 76 Beta implements this. For those who follow me on my website, you may know that a few weeks ago I implemented my own version of dark mode that follows the operating system's dark mode preferences. If the browser has the feature it will turn dark too.

Here's my website in dark mode in Chrome 76:

Posted by J B Balfour in Web design
dark mode
chrome

ZPE 1.8.x might still be over six months before it's initial release following the 1 minor version per year system, but I always like to have my codenames for the versions lined up. So here's the list:

  • 1.8.1 - Quinn
  • 1.8.2 - Hunter
  • 1.8.3 - Reynolds
  • 1.8.4 - Evershed
  • 18.5 - Carter
  • 1.8.6 - Younis
  • 1.8.7 - Portman
  • 1.8.8 - Myres
  • 1.8.9 - James
  • 1.8.10 - Kaplan
  • 1.8.11 - North
  • 1.8.12 - Pearce

Now try and tell me where these names come from.

ZPE 1.7.8 focuses on a bunch of things but it's main focus is on the compiler.

ZPE 1.7.8 has new compiler optimisations that take a bit of strain from the interpreter and put more on the much faster compiler. These changes do not affect interpreted programs but affect ones compiled to a file such as the standard library. One of the first things that was changed is that compiler now removed assertions from a compiled program (these are only needed when the program is tested). Secondly, mathematical operations are now optimised so that operations that would come first are moved to the first place in the operation. Finally, inherited structures now are created at compile time rather than runtime.

I'm hoping to have 1.7.8 out by the end of the month, but it will all depend on how much other work I end up having to do as I'm quite a busy web dev at the moment.

zpe 1.7.8

Although I would never spend the amount of money required to get a Mac Pro since my MacBook Pro is my work machine, it's always both exciting and inspiring to see how the Mac Pro changes and to follow it's paths.

Mac Pro has had it's latest update this June and the new update was very welcome. Gone is the dustbin-design of 2013 and in is the more classic and traditional looking Mac Pro with a new twist.

I thought I'd take a look at this thing in my living room

This thing, on paper at least, is a monster in terms of both performance and upgradability. It's actually on a new level for upgradability too. Featuring 8 PCI-E slots, all x16 in length of which a maximum 3 are actually full x16 slots capable of 16 lanes of PCI-E 3.0. Although Apple could probably have held out a little longer for PCI-E 4.0 this is still a beast.

Design wise, I'm really happy to see Apple move back to a more traditional looking machine.

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mac
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2019

ZPE 1.7.6 is just around the corner. As part of this, the ZPE engine gets a new logo for each version as shown above.

ZPE 1.7.6 brings minor performance improvements, a few fixes, 64-bit number representation, negative exponents in numbers (I am surprised this isn't in it already) new object features and I am also introducing an updated GUI which now uses an output console window. I'm hoping it will be available within this month.

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For a long time I have been in and out of Microsoft's smartphone ecosystem with me buying my first Microsoft Windows powered device back in 2005 when I was 13. Back then they were called Windows Mobile phones.

I got my first Windows Phone, a HTC HD7, in 2011, and it feels like a lifetime ago. It was then that Microsoft announced that Windows Mobile was to be replaced by this new, more sleek and modern operating system known as Windows Phone 7. At first it was a great operating system, mainly because it was different to the competition, but within no time at all, I started to see the err in my ways choosing a device powered by Microsoft's operating system. Months into my Windows Phone 7 device there was still no Facebook, and half of the other most useful apps had no intention on coming. The big update known as Windows Phone Mango was supposedly bringing sweeping changes that would improve the device but it was a long wait for something that you weren't even sure would fix the issues.

Microsoft entered a market controlled by two large companies who had actually been their rivals in other markets before now, Apple and Google. Microsoft's corporate business model was their only strength here; the other two were focused on the overall dominance of the smartphone market, whereas Microsoft, with the Office brand amongst other things, could focus on making their devices more suited to the enterprise market.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, they actually went down the route of trying to sell their phones to the average user. This created a variety of different problems for Microsoft because instead of focusing on their enterprise market, they had to cater to everyone, much like how Apple and Google did with iOS and Android. This made them just another smartphone operating system manufacturer, and they lost their own identity trying to copy ideas from their competitors.

My HD7 was the only smartphone I have ever paid to get out of early, simply because the operating system was so bleeding awful. The phone itself was actually really good however.

Windows Phone 10 came out and it's release was a surprise to me, as I had thought by that point Microsoft might have realised that there was no point in continuing with something as dreadful as it. Microsoft even went as far as to buy the Lumia line from Nokia and tried to market them as Microsoft phones.

Nothing worked for them. Windows 10 Redstone 2 was released as a big update and a promised Surface Phone was rumoured. People actually thought that it had a chance of becoming something, but no. Nothing came of it, and this article that I have written was inspired by another, which also talks about how the fate of Windows Phone is a sad one.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
windows
phone
mobile
fate