Jamie Balfour BSc

Welcome to my personal website!

Technology enthusiast

I am very interested in technology, particularly relating to computer science. I am most interested in web design and development.

My main hobby is programming. One of my most well known products from this is ZPE. I also am the sole creator of BalfBlog, BalfBar and BalfSlider.

A little bit about me

In 1997, when I was six years of age, I got my very first computer. I was always very interested in the ins and outs of it and dismantled it to see how it worked.

Years later, in 2016 I received my BSc (with honours) in Computer Science, obtaining a First class degree.

I'd like to welcome you to my website and hope you enjoy using it as much as I have enjoyed building it!

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Jamie Balfour BSc
Full stack developer

Personal Blog

Since the middle of my childhood, I have always kept a close eye on computer connectivity and it has always been one of my biggest interests in computers. 

Very recently I started to think a bit about what connections are on their last legs in their lifespan - ones that we probably will no longer be using in four or five years, and I came up with a list:

  • IEEE1394 or FireWire. FireWire is one of my favourite connectors for disks because it is relatively inexpensive compared with what most consider it's successor - ThunderBolt. Yet more and more wealthy professionals are moving to ThunderBolt, leaving the consumer market with USB 3.0. USB 3.0 maybe faster than FireWire in some situations but push FireWire development further and we could see it back at where it used to be - USB's big brother. However, development like this seems incredibly unlikely and FireWire, as great as it was, seems doomed.
  • eSATA and SATA. eSATA or external Serial Attached Technological Attachment was an attempt to bring SATA speeds to external devices and remove the bridge that both FireWire and USB required to communicate with such devices. eSATA keeps up with speed the core SATA implementation so it's about as fast as it's internal connector. eSATA has never kicked off properly though and it's only real purpose is to act as an external drive interface. SATA on the other hand is huge at the moment, but like eSATA, in my opinion, doomed. I say this because in the enterprise there is SAS - a much better alternative to SATA and more and more consumer laptops are moving to PCI-Express based drives and it will likely not be long before those who care for speed move to PCI-Express boards for their desktops too. From this, I do believe that eSATA is doomed and that SATA is a connector that will soon become very low-grade.
  • DVI. We've been saying DVI is finished for years and sure on consumer systems it is pretty much gone, but in the business world it's still there. My first PC to have a DVI connector was in 1999, my last monitor to use DVI ran until 2011. Since then I have moved to DisplayPort for the majority of cases and HDMI also (due to the fact that I run multiple computers from the same monitor and the majority of monitors feature multiple HDMI ports but only a single DisplayPort). Most business systems are built for budget and as part of this include budget monitors featuring only VGA and DVI. Some low end monitors are starting to appear with DisplayPort (since it is royalty free it is cheap to include). This new addition may signal an end for DVI in general.
  • Optical audio. Optical audio is one of the greatest inventions in the AV industry but the TOSHLink connector that we use today is something of a novelty. More and more television sets are dropping this connector since the all-in-one HDMI offers uncompressed PCM 7.1 audio as well as video over one cable. This means smaller packages too, as HDMI is a much smaller connector (internally) and is already included in almost every modern television.

You may ask what about PS/2. PS/2 being one of the oldest standards in connectivity still in use still has not disappeared with it's brethern (the parallel and serial ports). PS/2 probably will not disappear for sometime still since, unlike USB, it's relatively cheap to implement and that makes it good for business. For gamers it's ability to send an interupt directly is incredibly fast and unlike USB it does not rely on polling, so it still could remain popular in that market too.

If you are interested in knowing about the benefits of the old PS/2 standard vs the ugly USB polling system, take a look at this article.

Well since that's now past midnight on Halloween (gosh how time flies when you get to my age!), my Halloween theme is now officially no longer active.

I hope you liked the new features I added to the website for Halloween!

Macs are now saving IBM money, according to Mac Rumours.

Also, Apple are releasing a new range of input devices, according to The Verge.

Also updated are the Retina iMacs with both models receiving updates.

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

I'm rather happy to say that the wonderful company of Indeeo, whose software I have used in the form of iDraw which was used largely to make the icons and graphics for this website, has been taken over by AutoDesk.

iDraw as it was known is now known by the name Graphic.

iDraw

After a couple of hours of work, JBlogs is finally written in an object-oriented manner. To use JBlogs is far easier than before thanks to this.

Getting started requires a simple few edits to data.php file and then putting this code on your website:

PHP
$jblogs = new jblogs();
$meta_data = $jblogs->getMetaData();
$jblogs->generatePosts();

Since I first learned to program in early 2005 I have always been an object-oriented programmer. PHP became an exception in 2012 to this rule but I have since begun to move some of my own work to an object-oriented PHP. This change does mean you must be using PHP 5 or later by the way!

Mac OS X has featured a dashboard for a long time. It was introduced in Mac OS X 'Tiger' (version 10.4) and since Mac OS X Lion (10.7) it has received barely any attention from the developers.

OS X Dashboard

Dashboard still has yet to change

But now since Lion it has had absolutely no updates. It still looks like something from pre-Yosemite with it's skeuomorphic icons and it just doesn't fit into OS X. I love the dashboard in OS X, but it looks close to it's end.

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. 

After serving power (and heat) for 46 years, Cockenzie power station came to the end of it's service life as coal fired power station on the 15th of March 2013 at 8.30am. Since then, the people of East Lothian have been awaiting it's demolition and today on Saturday the 26th of September 2015, the landmark chimney stacks finally came down. 

But it was not to everyone's liking. I personally miss it already. It was someone's architectural idea and some team's work in building it. 

In my eyes though, because of my concern for the environment, the closure was a wonderful thing. 

I'd have liked the towers to have remained as a monument but that was never going to happen.

It's also sad that I really wanted to tour the power station before it went but it is long too late now!

Below is my YouTube video of the chimney stacks and turbine hall coming down:

Click here to view the video

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