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

In my personal opinion Charles Kennedy was one of the most honest, hard working and "for the people" politicians in British politics throughout my life. 

For me personally, Charles Kennedy was the reason I took an interest in politics and lead me to the path of the Liberal Democrats when I was around about 14. I became a liberal from around about 2005, just before Charles stood down as leader of the Liberal Democrats. I have always considered myself to a rather liberal person and a lot of that has come from what Charles  Kennedy stood for.

I personally shed a tear when I heard the news this morning.

Charles Kennedy

I was personally not in favour of the Iraq war and I personally disliked both the Labour Party and Conservative Party. I still am a liberal at heart and a strong supporter of what they have done for this country not only in the past but what people like Charles Kennedy did for this country - a strong and firm leader that the Liberal Democrats needed.

Charles Kennedy is notable in my books for his friendly, optimistic attitude to politics - he was a far more people's person than most and would have made an excellent PM for the country. He also achieved the best result for the Liberal Democrats that has been achieved to date, obtaining 63 seats. This kind of result has not been achieved since before the First World War and David Lloyd George before the decline of the Liberal Party to the Labour Party in 1920 odds.

I will personally miss the wonderful nature of Charles Kennedy - an honest, amazing politician who was an outstanding Liberal Democrat! 

Scotland made it's voice very clear last night. The Exit poll was nearly 100% accurate with it's predictions and almost every seat in Scotland now belongs to the SNP.

The prediction was that Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael would retain his seat and the Conservative David Mundell would retain his.

What we saw though was not an overnight change rather a change that has been coming along for sometime.

The following graph shows how massive the swing was:

Across Scotland, several notable figures were outsted from their seats:

Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander

Michael Moore

Michael Moore

Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson

Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy

Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

Images from OGL and CC license.

In the list Jo Swinson and Charles Kennedy were two that I did not expect to have as much trouble retaining their seats as Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander.

Last night the SNP saw swings of up to 39% - something we've not seen like this before.

However, the UK as a whole voted for another Conservative government. This is the result of punishing the Liberal Democrats by not voting for them down south (which is how democracy works anyway, which is a good thing). What I'm saying is, the Conservatives only have a majority of 13 seats, so if a few Liberal Democrats kept their seats we may have had another hung parliament which could have lead to a Labour-SNP coalition.

Anyway, I'm not massively bothered as amazed at the turnout and swing in Scotland.

Apple are now my favourite company. This is contrary to what I believed some four years ago, where I was only considering a MacBook Pro because of it's beautiful design and ability to run Windows (which I intended to do).

Furthermore, for the first few years - from when I got my family got our first Mac in 2009, we ran Windows 7 as the primary operating system. I even had an argument with my mother that there was no point in running OS X because half the stuff you want to do isn't available. This went even further when I got my MacBook Pro in 2011 - I bought it for the design and having OS X as a background OS.

It wasn't until about mid-2013 that I really started to use Mac OS X for my every day activities, in February 2014 I actually started to use Mac OS X as my main operating system and have barely used Windows at all since then and in November 2014 I ditched Windows on my Mac. Not only is OS X a more secure operating system, it has features like the Bash (Bourne Again SHell), iMessage and much more just built into the operating system. Things have changed so drastically since Snow Leopard but that's not saying that Snow Leopard wasn't good, because now that I look back at when I made the change to Mac with Snow Leopard I never had any problems at all. 

Macs are actually getting more and more popular, with the decline in the PC industry pushing the Mac sales up (do not forget: computer sales actually come from businesses too, and businesses are more likely to be buying PCs - although probably not much longer as hardware advancements push users to use the abomination of Windows 8 which was clearly designed for nothing but tablets and 'touch-screen desktops').

Here are a summary of the best things about Apple's products:

  • Great quality hardware
  • Everything integrates well between iOS and Mac OS X
  • Mac OS X
  • Innovations throughout the operating system

When I first started to use Mac OS X, Finder's Spotlight was quite a simple piece of technology - search your system for what you need when you need it. I used to also very much dislike the iOS Spotlight until iOS 7 which made it easy to use and now I use it to run any app on my iPhone or iPad.

I got very used to the idea of using Spotlight for starting apps and now I do it to open anything on my system because it's just so fast. There's even a shortcut that will let you open it and type in what you need in a flash (which is ⌘ + SPACE).

But there is so much more to Spotlight now. 

Here I've demonstrated my favourite use - a calculator:

Using it as a calculator means you can write out the expression very quickly and it supports a range of different mathematical features including the following keywords:

  • sin, cos, tan, sqrt
  • ^ - power
  • % - modulo
  • Brackets

This is just a few of the useful calculator operations you can do from your Spotlight search on your Mac.

In this post I have decided to look through the archives of Apple's website.

The site is a good indicator of how technology has changed.

Since I got my Mac mini in November I've been having problems with my Logitech G500 being very 'laggy'. I don't know if this is down to the fact that it is across 5m worth of USB powered hubs and so on or if it is a problem with OS X. It does work fine when I plug it straight in to the USB 3.0 port on the back of the mini but even when it is across the hubs it works fine on Windows 7. 

So I found a fabulous solution called Smooth Mouse. If you experience lag on your mouse you can download it here:

http://smoothmouse.com

On Mac OS X, you have many different ways to take screenshots:

  • Command + Shift + 3 - takes a fullscreen screen shot of the system and saves it to the Desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4 - takes a screen shot of an area that you select using the selection rectangle that appears after then stores it on the Desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4 then SPACE - takes a screen shot of a selected window on the display and stores it on the Desktop
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 3 - takes a fullscreen screen shot and stores it on the clipboard
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4 - takes a screen shot of an area that you select using the selection rectangle that appears after then stores it on the clipboard
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4 then SPACE - takes a screen shot of a selected window on the display and stores it on the clipboard

I use the second one the most, because I find it more useful to have a copy of the screen shot on my system. But the problem is, I end up with too many images on my desktop.

I'd really like to fix this by making the screen shots go to my Pictures/Screenshots/ directory. So a bit of looking around the web and I found the solution using Bash:

To start with open up a new Terminal window. This can be found in Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app.

Write/copy the following on a single line:

Bash
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures/; killall SystemUIServer

And you are done!

Lately I have been working to improve the cable management in my room and it feels like it's always an on going task. Now I've finally got to the stage that it's no longer an issue after completing it by buying an IKEA SIGNUM cable manager:

My cables in 2011, before my BlueLounge CableBox even

Around 30 cables run along here, yet they don't really affect my room at all.

8 of the cables run right around the desk and have zero impact on the appearance thanks to cable trunking.

My Mac mini, which is mounted to the bottom of my desk, has five cables (currently) that run to it and are neatly hidden in Ikea cable trunking.

Another three run all the way to the far side of the desk and are connected through the USB hub on my monitor

The cables that run around my bedroom are now trunked - reducing dust and making it more pleasant to the eye. I've left corners open so that they can reach the sockets

Finally, my personal switch in my room (which connects to our main network through an RJ-45 on the wall which has been there since 1999) is found in a basket under my desk.

You can also read about my other cable management tools such as the BlueLounge Soba cable management system or the BlueLounge CableBox and how they've helped organise my wiring better.

Oh yea, and I achieved this with flat cables too, which are a fantastic way of routing cables around a desk like this.

I will likely do a tour of my bedroom soon, as this is long overdue.

Galant

I am very sad to say that IKEA has discontinued their range of GALANT desks (like my own). This means that the very popular among IKEA Hackers corner desk can no longer be found in Ikea.

Proof of this can be found here.

This desk, which I've modded myself (I've added a shelf using the infamous CAPITA and a LAIVA TV bench), has been discontinued since last year meaning that those who need to replace parts of the desk can no longer. It has been replaced by BEKANT as a corner desk. BEKANT can have it's height adjusted using an electronic mechanism but unlike GALANT does not have all the modifications such as the additional parts as options.

Today, I discovered a few security enhancements that I could apply to my website so in the next few days I will be working to improve the login system further as well as making the site more reliable when dealing with threats.

I'd like to thank Jonathan for his unsuccessful attempts at breaking into my website and Ben for suggesting it.

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