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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Me
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).

Passbook

In iOS 6.0 in October 2012, Apple release one of it's new built-in apps. There was much hype about what it would bring to the iPod, iPad and iPhone. It was a clean new feature that was designed to bring about a new way of organising payments and cards; keeping your loyalty cards and boarding passes in one place. For instance, Starbucks allow you to obtain loyalty points with your Starbucks card and pay with it, or something similar (I am not much of Starbucks guy, but I have been in for an orange juice or apple juice once in a while) and Passbook allows you to keep this loyalty card 'inside' your phone.

The concept sounds great, but with Apple's lack of NFC (Near Field Communication), it means that communicating with the cash machine or whatever must be done using an optical scanner that can read either barcodes or QR codes from a display like the iPhone retina display. Sounds ok though, doesn't it?

Well no. It's below par and it hardly ideal. I use my Subcard (which funnily enough does not have a Passbook option as of just now, and probably never will) on my iPhone 5 which I hand over once I have placed my order and am ready to receive the points. I always worry that they have just been making my sub up for me just before they touch my iPhone. I'm also concerned that if it falls out of his or her hands the responsibility will still lie on my hands. Passbook is a solution that was not well thought through, contrast with Google Wallet. Google Wallet uses NFC in most cases and allows smaller payments to be made by just swiping the phone over the NFC card machine. This seems too easy compared. It's also got loads of safety features such as remote lockout and all the rest. You can read more about Google Wallet here.

Google Wallet

Passbook still only has five UK apps just now, namely iHotel, United Airlines, Lufthansa, American Airlines and Starbucks, of which I use just Starbucks. This was six months after the initial release of Passbook. I also do not understand why you cannot access the App Store from Passbook to see more Passbook apps after you have already got one Passbook card.

Passbook seemed so damn perfect, until the lack of apps and the lack of NFC made it become something I now just look at in disappointment.

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