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

Windows 10 was an amazing operating system for a few days when I first installed it on to my gaming PC. My gaming PC, The Zebra X2, is a beast of a machine which can run most games that I play like Starcraft II and GTA V in the highest available settings (Core i7 4770K, 256GB SSD, 8GB DDR3 RAM and an AMD 7950) but latterly it struggled with simple things like starting up.

After I installed Windows 10 the machine ran fine. However, one day when I was playing a favourite game of mine, Command and Conquer 3, I noticed a slight drop in framerate from playing it the time before. I didn't think too much of it at the time but gradually I noticed that each time I played this game it was getting worse. At the very end before I ridded myself of Windows 10 it was running so slow that when I used the graphics intensive Ion Cannon superweapon the game would just freeze and the animation for the superweapon would not be shown. The game would resume after the Ion Cannon blast was finished. So what the heck was going on?

My initial thoughts were that the hard disk drives that I stored my games on were starting to fail. I tested them all with SMART tools and none of them showed any signs of failure. I then assumed that it was my SSD so decided to install an old SATA III HDD into the system and installed Windows 7 on to it. It ran fine. I upgraded it to Windows 10 and again, it ran fine. So I assumed it was the SSD. I left the SSD in the system just disconnected. 

After time, the same weird thing happened to my system - it began slowing and the graphics were getting messed up in games. So now I assumed it was the graphics card or the PCI controller that had failed on me. I took the GPU out of the system and used the dedicated graphics built in to the CPU. The system ran just the same so I now knew it wasn't the graphics card that had failed, but wasn't sure if it was a motherboard fault such as the PCI controller or the memory controller.

I decided to reinstall the SSD and flash my BIOS. Clearing the BIOS meant that I could set it back to the factory defaults and test it with them (I had tried this several times before but to no avail). Nothing changed. 

My next choice was to clear the SSD and install Windows 7 on it. After reinstalling I panicked slightly as it wasn't working well at all with the Desktop Window Manager crashing on startup. After installing Service Pack 1 everything seemed to work perfectly. I would like to say that Windows 7 was the solution but I can't be sure. 

I would probably put the problem down to several things: Windows 10 was clogging up the system (don't know why), the original BIOS was not designed for Windows 10 and would have required an update (I have since updated again and may try it again in the future with Windows 10) and that Windows just needed that little reformat that us Windows users need to do on a regular basis.

My fix appeared to have come from the reinstall of Windows 7 and the BIOS reset. I will keep everyone up to date with my progress with Windows 10 again in the future.

The Windows 10 upgrade tool can be a pain!

08.06.2016

Due to the upgrade tool in Windows 7, I have been upgraded to Windows 10. This time the system appears to be running well - that is at least in comparison to how it was before. I will keep you posted when it begins to slow down again (if it does).

As I'm sure anyone who read my blog for technology related stuff will know, Moore's Law is a fundamental 'law' that defines that the speed of computers will double every two years. It's not entirely the case but it holds true for the majority of systems produced.

The law is more of a theory of a computer scientist called Gordon Moore, one of the founders of what is now Intel. It was theorised in 1965 and what it really stated was that the number of transistors that can be crammed in to one integrated circuit will double every two years. 

Intel call this a tick in their 'tick-tock' cycle. Examples of Intel CPUs include the Sandy Bridge range (tick) when compared with the Ivy Bridge range (tock). Both of these ranges were based on the Sandy Bridge architecture. The Haswell architecture which was the next tick could fit twice as many transistors in the same size of integrated circuit, following Moore's Law. 

But on the release of Broadwell, which was based on the Haswell micro-architecture and was the successor 22nm Haswell, we have arrived at transistors that are only 14nm in size, compared with Haswell's 22nm transistors this change is huge. The next step after 22nm according to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors will come in at 10nm. Currently, Skylake, which is the current range of Intel APUs and is a tick in the tick tock cycle, is facing several problems with going further. For the very first time in the history of Intel's tick-tock cycle, there are going to be two ticks (tick-tick-tock). Why you may ask?

The answer is that Moore's Law no longer holds true with current fabrication techniques. In fact 10nm is posing such problems that it has been delayed until 2017. Cannonlake (formely Skymont), which will be the tock in the cycle will succeed the successor of Skylake, codenamed Kaby Lake. It will drop the size to 10nm. From here on however, there is considerable worry about whether or not we can go any further. We may see for a few years that computers cannot get any more powerful. What worries me is that the companies may use this to make money out of us at no extra cost to them (since the technology will change but the systems will be no more powerful).

So what's the next step then? Quantum computing? Chemical based computing? Biological computing? Good question. 

For the foreseeable future I would imagine that quantum computers will be the future, since they currently already exist. What worries me about the future is how will devices we currently use (such as the world wide Internet) interface with these new devices? I worry greatly about this and how the transition will turn out.

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