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

A lot changes in BalfBlog very quickly. Today the new poll system was added amongst other changes including the removal of reversing posts (this is coming back in a much better way) and better internal layout including a new BalfBlog constant which is basically # ASSETS # (without spaces between the # characters) which if I put it in this post will give me /blog/assets/2016/11/the-new-balfblog-journal. 

However, I do not want my personal blog to be filled with all of these posts, and my project blog is also beginning to fill up. 

But BalfBlog provides a nice solution to this! Yes, I'm speaking of Journal Mode. This will also allow me to restrict the blog to people who I have accepted to read the blog. So you'll now need to register to view the whole changelog of BalfBlog.

Since 2007 when the iPhone took the world by storm mobile web browsing has continued to grow in it's user base and now for the very first time it has overtaken desktop browsing. Of course, this is based on just one figure, but it's now very understandable as the users of smart phones are at their highest.

Whilst I'm not surprised about the situation in relation to my own website since it has been this way for the last 3 or so years with my website (more than 60% of requesting coming from mobile devices), I do regret that my recent developments on my website have focused on the desktop browser a lot more than mobile (not to say that my mobile website isn't perfect anyway) in the hope to revive the desktop version of my website. As I mentioned, all of these updates will likely be to no avail since the majority of users across the web are from mobile devices and it will likely keep going that way.

Now Google's proposal, which later became requirement, that all websites must implement a mobile version makes far more sense. Why rank a website highly when it doesn't support the most used platforms?

You can find more about this at alphr.com.

Finally, after many years of planning, I will be bringing polls to BalfBlog. This post will soon feature one.

Also, I'm not planning on adding a way of creating polls into version 2.2 of BalfBlog, just for parsing them. So if you do want to create a poll, create a poll.xml file in the content directory for the post you want to have one. Note that version 2.3 will not use the poll.xml file since I plan to change the way in which this works.

This post now features my first ever poll from BalfBlog! Powered by XML and JSON together this fantastic feature might not find much use on my website, but it most definitely will be very useful in general in BalfBlog. It's asynchronous as well, so by voting you will not leave the page. Finally, users may vote just once and all user votes are stored in the poll. Currently the poll consists of a polling system in which users can vote on one option. Building on what is now implemented, I plan to allow users to insert other quantitative data into the system and eventually qualitative data too. 

Another major update has come to BalfBlog in the form of being able to export your database from the dashboard. This is a very powerful feature and one that I personally really wanted for some time. I'm also configuring a backup system that will create an archive each and every time you post something to your blog. This is a very useful feature for ensuring you always have a backup of the database if you did something wrong or your server stopped working (since you could have a download of it first).

I would like to add that the new plugin system for the tools is now in place and it's easy enough to use. I will be opening up a new sample database on my own website soon as well.

I'm also working on a new information architecture to make BalfBlog more expandable. One of these possible expansions is built in polling, in other words, at the end of a post a poll would appear which readers can then answer.

I have not posted any videos other than ones of animals (such as my pets and Jake the Duck) and of places and the Haunted Bath in a long time. My commitment to YouTube has been pretty poor since I started my website and my other projects like ZPE and WNP etc.

My commitment today is this:

I will reboot my YouTube channel at some point in the new year.

I hope this explains it well enough to you. I have plans as to what the reboot will entail too, but they will remain secret for now.

As part of the on going updates to BalfBlog my own site has to adapt very slightly to the new changes. Since my website is reliant on BalfBlog for the reviews, articles and indeed all the blogs and journals on my website, it is absolutely essential I carry out maintenance to keep up with it. The changes make no actual different to appearance of the website, but they do require that you refresh the page to see the website properly.

The new update to BalfBlog makes several changes to the way in which the CSS is represented. This update follows along side the new update that focuses on adding more white space in the form of padding to my website on desktop. 

The main focus on the latest bunch of updates was adding more modularity to the whole of BalfBlog. As a result the tools section is a plug in based system. This is achieved through tools which are comprised of a single directory which contains a simple XML file called info.xml and PHP files called front.php and do.php. The front.php file is used to instruct what the front of the tool does and the do.php is the process page. The tools page will now generate a list based on these tools. This allows me to be more modular and produce more tools for later versions without releasing a whole new version.

Subscribers and users can now be fully managed from within the Dashboard. The new setup for BalfBlog is also able to be accessed very easily since it will run when there is no data.php file in the appropriate location. I've still to think of an easy way to develop the multi blog single Dashboard system I have been talking of in recent posts but it will be done at some point.

Finally, on the subject of subscribers, there is one less requirement for you since BalfBlog now includes a new 'open' section of it's Dashboard and in it is the new subscribe page. What this means is that users can easily subscribe using the BalfBlog Dashboard.

All of this is still scheduled for version 2.2's official release at the end of the year.

October 27th 2016 was set as the date that the new Macs were to be announced. The date was obviously the date set for the Apple Special Event, the event where we normally expect new Macs (but don't always get what we want).

Apple's event largely focused on the Macs, but it started off with a bit of information on the new TV app coming to the Apple TV and iOS. The new app will let you watch live TV and find relevant video content. 

As well as this Apple launched a new range MacBook Pros. These MacBook Pros also feature a new OLED Touch Bar and Touch ID (it's taken ages for Macs to get this, as fingerprint recognition has been around for at least 10 years in the public domain) as we expected. Also, Apple did not refresh the Air, so MacBook Air users will be hugely disappointed.

Was the event exciting as it has always been? No. I don't feel that there is much in the way of huge innovation with Apple anymore, and certainly not with Macs. It's the same old stuff year after year and it's this that is finally swaying me away from Apple.

I'm actually inclined towards a Windows 10 machine now with the Razer Blade Stealth. 

Apple is running out of ideas

Apple chose not to refresh the MacBook Air

In this post I'm going to outline what's new for BalfSlider.

Firstly, the slider now has many new animations, in fact there is now a total of 18 of them. As well as this, the design of BalfSlider allows you to easily write your own effects quickly. 

BalfSlider also includes several external functionalities that are accessible through the jQuery library such as a newly added Repaint function. I use this Repaint function to redraw the slider when the landing page on my website disappears, since the height will not be correct initially. This can also be used if the slider is not visible initially.

There are several new features planned for the next iteration, but until then they shall remain a surprise. 

A main focus in BalfBlog is having a functional dashboard. The dashboard is incredibly functional and well written so that it can be expanded easily. The BalfBlog Dashboard was originally developed to be entirely inspired by the host website, but as time went on, this concept became hard to manage and develop for and I began to write the new dashboard.

BalfBlog Dashboard is a complete back-end development environment for BalfBlog. It's great because it maintains it all in one simple place as well as ensures that only the right users can access content without needing some complicated system that the host website needs to provide. It was originally themed from my own website and I continued this theme for some time. It still follows this and the big changes I've made to my own website are now also included in BalfBlog. I always planned, and have continued to, keep it free from orange. Even though orange is my favourite colour, BalfBlog takes another colour from my website for it's theme.

The colour #269 is the dark blue you'll find across my website as my secondary colour also being used on buttons across my website now has found it's way into BalfBlog as the new primary colour here. 

However, the restyling does not end here. I've got many plans on what is coming next. Most of the next few updates will focus on back-end updates, particularly related to user access. 

Site accessibility

A lot of the original functionalities that once existed here have been removed.

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