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

December has been a month about bringing notifications to BalfBlog. This month has brought quite a lot of new features that connect with the users of the blogs. 

First of all I added push notifications towards the end of November, allowing users to quickly subscribe to push notifications. Users can still subscribe by email using the my_blog/subscribe/ URL. On top of this, notification frequency can be changed so you don't spam your followers. 

Secondly, I have finally added social media buttons for sharing. This is completely controlled by BalfBlog, so you don't need to worry. All that you have to do is style the buttons and set them to appear from the settings controls.

Take a look at my blogs to see exactly what has been done.

I don't often post about my projects here in my personal blog and tend to leave these to my project blog. However, this update to BalfBlog is significant and very important.

Today's update brings the long awaited installer package. It's very lightweight and fits right into any blog. All that you will need to do is go to your blog for the first time with the front page referencing the BalfBlog.php file. If the front page of the blog is not configured with this file, it's just as easy to visit the /balfblog/ directory on the blog. This will also trigger the installer. When you get to the installer, it's simple, since it's just the same as the settings front page on the BalfBlog Dashboard.

This new and improved version of BalfBlog also brings some changes around that focus on making it more flexible and lightweight. For those that enjoy the fact that BalfBlog integrates into any website very well, I will be bringing more and more features to make this easier for you in the next major version. The latest version is not yet available, and I do not intend on making it available until the full release of version 2.2. 

Apple's 2016 event was hyped to be about the new iPhone 7 and Apple will not disappoint. Other things expected included the wireless EarPods and the removal of the 3.5mm jack on the iPhone. 

I'm hoping for a change in the stupid design of the Apple Magic Mouse and having the Lightning connector moved to the top of the mouse so you can use it whilst it charges but that's likely not going to happen.

Anyway, the presentation begins soon so I'll need to begin writing since this post is now live.

Apple + Nintendo

This might sound too good to be true, but I'm happy that Nintendo chose Apple to release their new Mario Run game. Firstly, seeing Miyamoto at the Apple Event was absolutely awesome. The game looks good fun for a mobile game (I'm not a huge fan of Mario games on my Wii U).

Hopefully this move will lead to more collaboration and more games from Nintendo on our Apple devices.

iWork update

The next big thing to be mentioned was the update for iWork. This update adds real time collaboration with colleagues or the like using iWork applications. This is very similar to the way that Google Docs works or whatever.

Apple Watch

Pokémon Go for Apple Watch

Niantic, developers of Pokémon Go, are now bringing Pokémon Go to the Apple Watch. It's more convenient than checking (or staring) at the phone screen and I think although the audience didn't look too interested, I think it looks great.

Apple Watch Series 2

Whilst it was predictable that Apple would make the next iteration of the Apple Watch more waterproof, the way it has been designed is phenomenal. The speaker that is used to expel water after a swim is well thought out that only Apple would do. The screen has been revamped too, now with a brightness of 1000 nits. It also now includes built in GPS. It now also features a dual-core processor.

Obviously, Apple have also released some new designs too. Nike came on to talk about their new Nike Plus Apple Watch which attempts to motivate you to run - to me perhaps the most useful reason for me to get an Apple Watch since I cannot ever motivate myself to get out and run!

Apple have priced the Apple Watch Series 2 at $369 and renamed the original watch as the Series 1 and priced it at $269 and added the same dual-core processor found in the Series 2.

Pictures of the Apple Watch 2

The new Apple Watch Series 2

iPhone

Apple has now sold over a billion iPhones - making it:

The best selling product of it's kind in the history of the world.

iOS 10

You can now raise your iPhone to activate it. Machine learning has been added to the auto correct in the keyboard. HomeKit has had a major improvement, adding it the Control Center and adds hundreds of support. Tim Cook believes that HomeKit is going to be a big deal.

Messages is getting many new features including stickers and the ability to send payments using the messages app.

iPhone 7

iPhone doesn't always excite me - I'm more in to the Macs, but I'm excited this year because it's the tock in the Apple tick-tock cycle.

A 'gorgeous new design' according to Cook. The new iPhone 7 actually is beautiful and it's high gloss back looks absolutely amazing. It's made using as few parts as possible, making it more solid than previous versions. The antennas have been far better hidden and don't look as ugly as before. Here's a picture of the new iPhone 7 in gloss black. 

Pictures of the iPhone 7

The gloss black iPhone 7

As expected, the iPhone's home button is getting taptic feedback and the iPhone is being made water and dust resistant. It's classified as IP67. 

The camera is still a 12MP but has a better flash LED. Phil Schiller also explains that the images are much better and showed some examples that shows how good it is when the object is moving. The iPhone 7 also features a new 7MP front facing camera. 

The iPhone 7 Plus now features a 2x optical zoom. A nice addition but not enough yet and I will stick with the simple iPhone 7 if I get it.

However, the addition of the portrait feature might sway me, since this allows you to take a depth of field photo - and they do look amazing. Here's the picture shown in the event:

Depth of field photo

A depth of field photo taken on the iPhone 7

It's about time but Apple has finally added stereo speakers to the iPhone 7. Another expected change was the move from the 3.5mm audio jack to the Lightning connector - something that is nice but will take time for people to change to. Apple has kindly included an adapter from Lightning to the 3.5mm jack. My main concern now is how this will work with my next MacBook Pro (not considering one at the moment).

Next: Wireless EarPods, known as Apple AirPods. I must admit, I really dislike the looks of them and really wouldn't go around with wireless waves going through my head like that but they may appeal to some! 

Apple has added their latest quad-core CPU to the iPhone 7 called the A10 Fusion - 120x faster than the original iPhone, 40x faster the iPhone 5 and 2x faster than the iPhone 6. It's design is unique in the sense that it runs two cores on low performance mode which are designed for processes that require less power and this should make it more power efficient. In terms of graphics, the new graphics processor is 240x more powerful than the original iPhone's graphics processor. A sample of this was shown where we get to see 400 flying monkeys. Phil then tells us that:

Nothing quite shows the performance like 400 flying monkeys

Apple claims that they have improved the battery life over the iPhone 6. We'll see about that.

As always, I'm happy to hear that Apple manufactures using the most environmentally friendly materials available. 

The end

As always the event finished with a song and I must admit the song was a dreadful choice in my opinion, but that's just me. I was also disappointed that no new Macs or a new iPad were announced today. Overall the keynote was good and the iPhone 7, which dominated the keynote, looks beautiful.

I was a bit disappointed to find out Apple is not offering the 32GB model (which is now the base model) in the Jet Black model, but as I have a 64GB version as it is I may choose the 128GB anyway. I still believe this will be an off putting factor for many.

BalfBar has had a significant improvement to make it even easier to get your website the way you want it. You can now forget about setting the height when BalfBar becomes a fixed menu - it figures it out itself. Now all you need to do is tell it you want it to check for this and it will make the decision as to when to float the menu.

On top of this, a significant chunk of JavaScript has been removed from the core, making it much more streamlined and lighter. Suggestions for future versions can still be made on my website.

I'm very happy to say that I have kept my word on website changes in that I haven't made major changes to the structure of my website in the last year. Minor usability tweaks have been made but nothing major, and a lot of the stuff that I have changed has remained quite consistent with the 'new' flat interface.

General tweaks to make the site more efficient with bandwidth and processing time have been made and as a result, I feel that my website is much better, even better than it was a year ago when I made the change to remove a few hundred lines of JavaScript and CSS and made my website much flatter.

If you feel the same way, please leave feedback, I'm really interested to know. Also, my website achieved 1000 people each week this month - by a long shot the best result to date. It has also moved up 11,852,082 places in the Alexa ranking system as a result of this surge in the last month alone. 

Alexa Ranking

I think a lot of the improvement on my website comes from the fact that I have not been focusing on these changes and ensuring that there is good content on my website, as my blog is now one of the most viewed parts of my website and my reviews are not far behind. 

A lot of the time changes are now directly to improve the DragonScript concept for a more efficient server side website. I have also been removing bits and bobs from the accessibility menu, since I no longer feel the need for this.

However, as a suggestion was made to me to do this, I will be updating my website with a new cover picture-esque thing like Facebook pages have. This will likely be a picture of Perthshire or somewhere in Scotland.

With Pokémon Sun and Moon just around the corner I felt that it was high time that I compiled a top ten list of the worst Pokémon in terms of design. Remember, this is opinion based. Disagree all you like but it will not change the fact that this is my opinion.

I think my list does pretty much summarise the worst designs and names, and I think it goes to show just how bad it's getting over time. My list is only the top ten, I'd like to say that other Pokémon deserve to be in here too such as Magmortar, Diggersby, Probopass and Binacle. 

#10 - Escavalier

Escavalier

I'm just not a fan of either Escavalier or Accelgor. Escavalier (for those who do not know, cavalier is French for a knight or mounted warrior) is the combination of a cavalier and Excalibur (King Arthur's sword). The Pokémon has two jousting lances, which just look ridiculous in the first place, and is encased in armour not too unlike that which cavaliers would have worn. Just silly and uncreative. 

#9 - Machop, Machoke and Machamp

Machoke

These humanoid Pokémon really make me angry and always have. The very fact is they are based entirely on humans. The name is even pathetic, since macho is a word in English which just means 'tough'. They even wear a pair of underwear and have slick back hair. All in all, Machoke is my least favourite of this family since it really does resemble a human far too much.

#8 - Purugly

Purugly

I hate cat like Pokémon in general, since all of them are incredibly boring. None quite make it to the same ranks as Purugly. It's name is just atrocious; a terrible combination of pur (like a cat) and ugly. And it is ugly. This Pokémon shows absolutely no signs of unique or fresh and really just adds another silly cat Pokémon.

#7 - Cofagrigus

Cofagrigus

A sarcophagus/coffin Pokémon?! In fact, a possessed coffin now makes a Pokémon. I hate the pre-evolution, Yamask, just as much as this, but I pick on this because firstly, it looks childish and pathetic and secondly because this is just pure lazy. I imagine this all the time to reside in Gobi's Valley in Banjo-Kazooie back on the N64, but not in Pokémon.

#6 - Garbodor

Garbodor

Okay, a pile of rubbish is now a Pokémon?! This Pokémon is crap. It's design is horrible. It looks like a combination of a bin liner (garbage bag) and rubbish that's spewing out of it. It's name is terrible too: a combination of garbage and odor. 

I can tell you, I would never be a proud owner having this pile of crap as my Pokémon.

#5 - Klinklang

Klinklang

A rip off of the original Magnemite family but looks even worse. Magnemite and co are one of thos families who really look awful, but Klinklang and just feel like somebody thought "you know what, we'll rip of the crappy Magnemite family and make a new range of crappy Pokémon". 

Klinklang is a terrible name too - a combination of klink and klang, two sounds associated with metal hitting together. 

#4 - Chandelure

Chandelure

A fecking possessed chandelier?! Really just when you didn't think it could get any worse (well you probably did since you are reading towards the worst Pokémon design ever) we get Chandelure. This Pokémon's name is a combination of chandelier and lure since being a Ghost type Pokémon it lures others. Who enjoys fighting using a chandelier then?! 

This Pokémon's typing is great since Fire and Ghost is a rare combo, but since it's ugly design (and it's family aren't any better) I just refuse to use it.

#3 - Klefki

Klefki

Another 'possessed object Pokémon'. Yeah right! Game Freak once again ran out of ideas and when one of the creators of these Pokémon got into his car and started the ignition suddenly came up with the idea that we could really use a keychain Pokémon. No bleeding way. 

Game Freak still brought it in and we now have our third possessed Pokémon in the list. Another absolutely waster of a Pokémon. 

#2 - Honedge

Honedge

Alas, Game Freak, the creator of some of the most successful games ever, decides to continue to shoot itself on the foot with the introduction of Honedge. This is one of the worst names ever. Hone, which literally means to refine or sharpen in the case of a blade, mixed with edge, specifically talking about the edge of the blade. It's evolution's names are just as bad. The name Doublade (double blade) and Aegislash (Aegis was the name of Zeus' shield in Greek Mythology and slash mixed into one). 

Anyway, once again we have another 'possessed object Pokémon'. This is another one the developers thought to look to the real world and just cheaply use an object and claim it to be possessed.

#1 - Vanilluxe

Vanilluxe

Woohoo! Number 1! 

I absolutely hate Vanilluxe. This Pokémon has the most childish design of all Pokémon, fails to introduce anything non-real world, and is just beyond belief pure lazy. I despise this Pokémon, and not just because it's an Ice Pokémon, but because this Pokémon is just awful. The name, which appears to be a combination of both vanilla and deluxe, is pathetic. "I'll have a deluxe vanilla ice cream please". Deluxe appears to have been stuck in here also since this is a tertiary evolution, making it the 'deluxe model of the family'.

Who would want to fight using an ice cream?! And how on earth is it so powerful; Vanilluxe has the highest base stat of any non-legendary Ice-typed Pokémon?! 

It's design is awful, obviously appearing to be like an ice cream cone with two wafers in it's head and then a giant cone shape for holding at the bottom. Honestly, when I saw this Pokémon I laughed and shed a tear at the same time - I literally froze and double checked what I had seen was correct.

I'd like to thank Calum for unintentionally suggesting I write this post.

In the last few days I've been focusing a lot of my time on software development rather than my usual web development. As a result ZPE has received more of my time than my website. This changed again today when I decided to work on it again.

Today I brought back the Facebook commenting system to my website, replacing my long lasted Disqus comment system. As a result of this, I am also including this in BalfBlog 2.1 instead of Disqus. The main benefit is now users no longer have to enter an individual post to comment on it (for the main blog mode, not introduction mode).

The DISQUS_SHORTNAME and the related settings are no longer required since Facebook does not need users to login. 

On my website side of things again, I have been focused on ensuring the OpenGraph content is up to date on my website. You should see that it is now pretty concise and works effectively every time and as a result sharing looks much better with Facebook.

Remain or leave. That is the question in this Europe referendum.

I know what I've voted, but what's the result going to be?

From statistics, which I will say are often far from correct, it looks neck and neck, but really, I am expecting the Remain campaign to win this, at least here in Scotland.

I'll be live updating this blog post as the more important results come in, and in the morning I will update it with the final results in a beautiful graph.

The first result - Newcastle upon Tyne

With the first result coming in just as I was posting this, from Newcastle upon Tyne, I thought I might graph it now as it comes in (this is expected to be big voter of Remain).

As it seems, Newcastle was only a marginal win for the Remain campaign.

A bit later

Sunderland was the first to vote Leave and it was a considerable win for the Leave side.

Edinburgh and East Lothian

In general, Scotland has voted no to leaving Europe, and in East Lothian the Remain campaign managed to get a decent 66% of the vote and in Edinburgh they received a whopping 75% of the vote.

We've now officially left

At 4.40 on the 24th of June 2016, it was officially announced that the UK has voted to leave the EU.

It is a sad day that England has taken the UK out of the EU. More importantly, Scotland was told this:

EU

Now what happens? We voted 'No' and were told this was the only way for us to remain in the EU and now we are leaving.

The final results

WWDC is getting less exciting as the innovation begins to get less innovative. I'm personally no longer shaken by the new releases of iOS since version 7, which was the last real iOS that I could say was exciting. Since then Apple's software releases have become less exciting and certainly don't hold the same level of innovation.

Anyway, WWDC last night was the moment Apple dropped the name OS X and named it macOS. So now, my Mac will no longer run on OS X but on macOS. The new version will be known by the name macOS Sierra. I'm happy to say the inclusion of Siri is something that I am excited about. This is something OS X should have had a long time ago.

iOS 10 is opening up to developers and third-party apps more and more. First off, Siri is being given an SDK and opened to developers so that apps can take advantage of the power of Siri. Third party developers such as WhatsApp will have more power over the iOS device too.

The most interesting part however was with tvOS. I feel that Apple has made a few crucial updates such as the new dark mode, which you may think is not crucial but let me tell you, it is. There was also the addition of the new single-sign on option for different apps stream through cable TV. 

Overall, WWDC 2016 was very lackluster and one of the least interesting WWDCs of all time. A lot of this is down to the fact that Apple have run out of fresh innovation since they've already implemented most of the important features of our smartphones - all they do now is move things around.

WWDC

Today is the day. WWDC 2016. Have you thought much about what we might expect?

One of the main things that I am expecting is Apple finally dropping OS X and naming it macOS (stylised exactly like that). Doing this would make macOS feel right at home with iOS, tvOS and watchOS.

Of course, iOS 10 is expected and OS X 10.12 (or macOS 10.12). Apple will probably also announce tvOS 2 and watchOS 3. Also, there may be a few more watch straps announced today. With macOS 10.12 I am expecting that Apple will finally bring Siri to us Mac users.

Anyway, that's my thoughts. Let me know what you think below.

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