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

As a developer, there is one thing that is at the top of my list of things that I need to decide on - the text editor.

The development environment needs to be pleasing and make you feel comfortable (whilst developing Dash I feel quite the same way, if the content management system isn't user friendly, you can't be comfortable using it). I've been through a lot of editors - starting with a bunch of versions of Visual Studio, including Visual Studio 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013. They are all brilliant and I'm glad that I made the choice to use them for about 7 or so years whilst I was a .NET developer.

Things changed quickly though as I became a developer based on Mac OS X. I was forced to find a new editor that suited my development purposes. When I stopped developing in VB.NET and C# and began developing Java, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP etc. I found that I needed to find a new IDE that would suit those purposes. For the vast majority of those (all the web based ones) I used Aptana Studio 3. Aptana was brilliant but it quickly felt dated but I just could not afford the time to get a new editor without being certain that it was right for me. A good IDE needs to be extremely colourful (because that helps highlight different syntaxes), be fast and not prone to crashing (as Aptana eventually started doing) and be feature rich. For me one of the most important features of the IDE is support for SFTP. Aptana offers this out of the box. I then moved from Aptana to Eclipse with the Aptana plugin - pretty good to be honest. 

Eclipse is brilliant for Java development, and I still use it because it can compile a JAR file in so few steps, it can interpret and debug programs well and it just feels like it was designed for Java. However, Eclipse was eventually laden with the same bug that Aptana has and would crash from time to time - particularly when in the Web perspective.

So I made another move, this time to Adobe Brackets. I jumped on the Brackets bandwagon when it was pretty young, and I loved it. Syntax highlighting is lovely, it's feature rich and it's open source. Unfortunately, this jump was too early - Brackets just didn't have everything I needed. In 2015, I started an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. As a result I gave Dreamweaver a try and I liked it (looking back, I don't know why I liked it really other than the fact it had SFTP built in). 

Introducing Atom

Atom is now my favourite text editor. After being introduced to it by a colleague at work, I feel like I've come to love it. It's colourful, well designed, doesn't crash and has everything I need from a text editor or IDE. 

Atom is my new IDE of choice

Why is Atom nearly the perfect editor though? Well my first reason is that Atom has clear colouring - it's dark interface clearly defines the background from the foreground and its syntax highlighting is bright and stands out well. On top of this, Atom features a plugin system that means that if the feature you want is not available, it's likely to be available as a plugin somewhere. Atom is fast - it doesn't slow down too much as files get larger - I'm talking about PHP files, which I always break into logical files which rarely exceed 3,000 lines. 

People may say what about Visual Studio Code, since being from a Visual Studio background surely I'd like that? Well yeah I do. But I found Atom to be even nicer.

I think that if you are reading this and looking for a new text editor with a beautiful touch to it, Atom is well worth a try.

If you have a different favourite, I want to know what your favourite editor is. 

In the past, I have been told that my code samples are really good, but they lack one or two things. The most crucial one of those is the ability to copy the formatting. Unfortunately, this is not possible at the moment due to the fact they are written as a ordered list element. This means that each line of code is put in a new li element. When one comes to attempt to copy from the element, the formatting (e.g. the indentation, which is completely controlled by a CSS margin property) will not be retained. 

After some perseverance, I have begun the transformation of my samples. Currently in the ol element, they will now be nested within the pre element. What this also means is that it will be much easier for me to update them using my content management system. As of this second, the CSS tutorial has been partially updated, and my articles, reviews, blogs and the software section completely use this new system. 

The main theory behind doing this is to make my website more accessible and easier to use, whilst not making any real visual changes. At the current time, you may see that some of the older samples no longer appear properly. This is a known issue and will be fixed when they switch to the new style.

Please bare with me whilst I make this change, since it will take some time for me to fully implement across my tutorials. 

21.05.2016
I have since updated my HTML and CSS tutorials with the new pre-based samples. It's taking a long time to do but I will be done with the PHP tutorial by the end of the day.
23.05.2016
All pages on my website now use the new pre-based code samples so all code from these samples is now fully copyable. JavaScript must be enabled for the pre elements to display properly, but it will work without JavaScript anyway. 

Some pages have now been turned into PHP equivalent pages, i.e. from HTML to PHP. This marks an important change in the site which is now going through a major change to bring more of an interactive PHP experience. Pages such as Articles, Reviews and Tutorials, as well as the Development subpages have all become PHP pages, as I have updated the site to automatically display articles when I upload them. This makes it much easier for me, but also guarantees the accuracy.

So despite what I said a few months ago about never going to become a web developer, I'm really starting to get some where now and many people have begun commenting on how good my website is beginning to look!

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was one of, if not the greatest computer scientists in the history of the world.

He is one of my biggest inspirations and he was an incredibly clever, brave and generally remarkable man.

If you don't know much about Turing this post may be rather less interesting, but the man was an absolute genius who cracked the Enigma code during the Second World War and shortened the war by two to four years and also developed the things we call 'computers'.

Turing Machines are very simple mathematical devices that take in an input and decide what to do with it. Couple loads of these and you have a system like computers of today. That's how transistors work in the CPU of the computer and so on.

Turing committed suicide after being chemically castrated for being gay back in 1954 - an unbelievable loss to the world.

Anyway, in the next few days I'm sure the world will celebrate this man for what he did.

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