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

First of all, this post is not an appraisal of Apple in anyway, quite the opposite, which is not normally what the posts in the Apple Everything category are.

2015 was not just an odd year for Apple but in my opinion, one of the worst in terms of design.

The MacBook (Retina)

I was so hyped when the MacBook was being re-released but incredibly disappointed by a certain number of things about it.

The Retina display is a lovely addition to this computer and makes it one of the highest resolution displays in the market at the moment along side it's bigger brother, the MacBook Pro.

I happen to be the owner of a Pro and feel somewhat disappointed by Apple's recent changes that they have been bringing to the Pros - particularly the minaturisation of components since this has resulted in Apple taking away all of the possibility of upgrading components.

On the subject of the MacBook, absolutely nothing can be replaced and the laptop itself features just one connector. A single USB-C connector provides the power inlet as, the data connector and video connectivity. I'm not a fan of these designs where functionality suffers for design to gain.

This is why the MacBook fails for to grab me.

As well as offering just the one physical connector, the MacBook is powered by a measly 1.2GHz Core M - a mobile CPU that is intentionally cut down for a better thermal design power. Again, this is well suited to making the computer smaller and thinner, but at the end of the day this is still a laptop computer. Other than that it is a stunning machine and had it not suffered functionally, I would have considered one.

Apple Magic Mouse 2

The Magic Mouse 2 was released as the final release of 2015 along with a new Magic Keyboard and a new Apple Trackpad.

The Magic Mouse 2 is, in my personal opinion, the biggest design flaw in any wireless mouse ever.

The Magic Mouse 2 is finally a rechargeable Magic Mouse, meaning you can say goodbye to the AAs required in the previous version. The big flaw with this is how it is charged however.

The Magic Mouse 2 is charged via the Lightning connector. This is alright I suppose, although I'd rather have seen it being charged by MicroUSB but I could never imagine Apple doing this since they like to use proprietary connections that they have developed for everything.

However, the charging connector is on the bottom of the mouse. This means that the mouse cannot be used while it is being charged. I mean what?! This is so ridiculously stupid and it may seem impossible to even think that this is the same Apple who designed the iPhone, the Unibody Macs and the iPad but it is.

I'm not the only one to have complained about this, but this is entirely my own thoughts on this. Take a look at the picture here to see what I mean.

Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro is a really great idea, something that has actually existed for many years on Windows tablets, like my 2010 Fujitsu Lifebook T4410.

The Pencil allows the user to simply write on the screen with a stylus but have the benefits of things like pressure sensitivity and angle detection so that the stylus produces more realistic results. This is great with things like Microsoft Onenote and taking handwritten notes and drawings.

The problem with the Pencil is one of the ways in which Apple has allowed users to charge the device. When the Pencil runs out of the juice, the user has the choice to take it to a plug socket with the adapter included and charge it using that. Alternatively, if they only have the iPad Pro on them, they can charge it using the Lightning connector on the base of the Pro. This allows them to go completely mobile and leave behind all charging devices.

The problem is how it is charged however. Putting the Pencil in the bottom of the iPad Pro and charging it makes the Pencil more susceptible to being broken. Remember all those USB ports that have been broken by leaning on the cable when it's plugged in? The same can be said with the Pencil when it is in the iPad Pro Lightning connector.

Take a look here for a picture of this.

iPad Pro Keyboard

The iPad Pro also came with a keyboard case thing as an option. I was very pleased to see that Apple was adding a physical connector for the keyboard, since a Bluetooth keyboard is not an ideal solution in my idea. I was let down by the fact that it is what I to refer to as a 'cloth keyboard'. I'd have really liked it to have been one of the hard keyboards, transforming the iPad Pro into a convertible tablet, somewhat like my Windows tablet.

Mac Mini 2014

I decided to include the end of 2014 in this post since I wanted to bring up the Mac Mini 2014. Once again, the Mac Mini received no updates in 2015, but a 2016 refresh with Intel Skylake is expected.

None the less, the Mac Mini, the modder's machine in Apple's words, was completely redesigned in 2014. This redesign involved removing any parts that were modifiable and replacing them with parts that could not be changed. What a disaster. The same will be with the 2016 version.

Conclusion

While I am happy with my current range of products, my favourite device I own is my Mac Mini due to the fact that I can change parts inside. I have a 2012 top model and refused to take the 2014 model due to the fact that there were no quad core options available as well as due to the lack of removable parts.

Apple has gone the wrong way recently with design, and knowing Apple they will not change this and will stick to their guns. Who knows if I will ever buy another Apple product.

This post is a collection of all the information you will need from the keynote today. I will likely do a full review of this in the next few hours.

The introduction

The start of the keynote was all about Watch OS 2 and what it has brought to the Apple Watch. New Watch apps include Facebook Messenger, a Go Pro app, iTranslate and a new app for measuring pregnant mothers.

iPad

Tim Cook talks about how the iPad has changed the way we work and create. Now Apple asks itself how they could improve it. The result, the biggest change in the history of the iPad: the iPad Pro. Does this mean I will need to update my website's media queries?

The Pro looks beautiful. The iPad Pro is twice the height of the iPad Air 2 in width. It has 5.6 million pixels with a resolution of 2048 by 2772 pixels on a 12.9 inch display. It features an Apple A9X APU which is now 1.8x times faster than the iPad Air 2 in CPU performance and 2x faster in graphics performance. It is faster than 80% of portable PCs sold in the last year and faster than 90% of PCs sold in the last year in terms of graphics.

All this, and still ten hours of battery life and incredibly slim (6.1mm)! It also features a four speaker audio system.

The iPad Pro was actually expected by many, so the shock was rather small for me!

Apple also introduced the Smart Connector, which allows a new physical Smart Keyboard to be attached to physically to the iPad and whilst I do not like the looks of the official keyboard but the physical connection is a huge bonus!

Apple also spoke about a new accessory called Pencil. Pencil is basically a really awesome stylus for the iPad.

Microsoft had a say today at the event as well - they announced that they were bringing features for the Pencil to Microsoft Office that allow input from the Apple Pencil. It's nice to Microsoft and Apple working together on this.

Adobe also spoke about their new apps that are coming to the new iPad. Adobe Comp looks really impressive (maybe not something I would use) and the multitasking works so well with it.

The new iPad Pro starts at $799!

The iPad mini 4 also got a short introduction. It is simply a smaller version of the iPad Air 2.

Apple TV

Today, Apple "did something" about the lack of innovation in the TV industry.

The new remote uses a new touch surface that makes it fluid to move around. This is a more innovative way to interact. The new Apple TV also supports voice commands through Siri.

The Siri search also searches across multiple apps including Hulu, Netflix and iTunes, all in one search. Siri can also rewind the video and put subtitles on when you mention that you missed what someone said!

There was a lot of focus on the new screensaver features, which doesn't really interest me but there we go. There was a bit that really touched the inner Bond fan in me as well which was nice!

The new Apple TV also now features its own App Store.

The games coming to the Apple TV look incredible.

Unfortunately, Tom from Hipster Whale didn't make it across the road in Crossy Road. Crossy Road looks lovely on the new TV, but I'm not sure I'm that thrilled by the idea of games on my Apple TV with the remote.

Apple has also taken the concept of hand off further by allowing you to continue playing games you own on your iPhone and Apple TV.

Oh and yea, my favourite feature, it has HDMI-CEC. The new Apple TV has 32GB or 64GB of built in storage. The new Apple TV has all the same connectors as the previous one other than the removed optical audio port.

iPhone

The iPhone 6 is the most popular iPhone ever and indeed they are the most popular and most loved phone in the world. Tim Cook now asks, how do you continue that success? The answer, the iPhone 6s.

The new iPhone 6s looks exactly the same as the iPhone 6, but it changes are phenomenal.

Multitouch is replaced by a new type of interaction called 3D Touch. As expected, this is a similar technology to the new Force Touch Trackpad found on the new MacBook. iOS 9 deeply integrates this to allow contextual data to appear where it could be considered useful. I really like the looks of this and cannot wait to try it out in the next few weeks. At this point, 3D Touch looks well integrated  into iOS.

The new iPhone is also made with a new 7000 series aluminium. The new iPhone 6s also features the new Apple A9 APU. It is supposedly 70% faster in CPU tasks and 90% in graphics tasks. The new iPhone 6s has a new fingerprint sensor for Touch ID which is twice as fast.

The new camera is 12 megapixels, which will increase resolution but not at the price of quality. The new camera seems to take great photos. It can now take 4K video (that's 8 million pixels!). The front FaceTime camera now also has a flash that uses the display of the camera using True Tone technology.

Live Photos now also add a small video to the photo, which allows the photo to transform to something that moves.

Apple are also adding a new Android transfer app that they consider the 'neighbourly thing to do'. This allows Android users to transfer much easier.

Prices are still the same of the iPhone 6s, starting at $299 for the 16GB.

Apple are also launching a new iPhone Upgrade Program that entitles you to a new iPhone every year and includes an unlocked iPhone and AppleCare.

The best news, iOS 9 will launch on the 16th September.

The new ad had a slight rip off of the 'Okay Google' adverts but it was very Apple.

To finish

Tim Cook made a really nice tribute to the all the Apple employees and there was, as always, some live music (this time from One Republic) and a song specifically for Tim Cook.

And that is it for another year from Apple.

Apple Event

Just a quick reminder that Apple's September event takes place today at 18.00 UK time. 

You can find out more on Apple's website.

Possible releases could be a new Apple TV, a bigger iPad, the iPhone 6s, new Macs and more information about the new OSes.

I would love to make a liveblog on this, but unfortunately my host runs an Apache server and not an nginx server therefore every livepost I make ends up overloading the server so I will do a summary post at the end.

If like me you love following big computing companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and all the others out there, then you may have noticed that there was just a big release from two of the larger companies there.

Both Apple and Google have just released new devices; Google with the new Nexus 7 (I love and hate my 2012 Nexus 7 because it's constantly running slow, but is now used for simply browsing the web and playing Happy Street[!]) and Apple with the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Now it is confirmed that Apple has set the 15th of October (great news for you Calum Cormack) as the date for their next event.

Expected at the event is the new iPad. Some mentioned that the new iPad, now in it's fifth iteration, will feature a smaller bezel, thus allowing the iPad to shrink slightly. Others have stated that a 13 inch iPad may be on the cards. Whilst both of these are feasible, neither have concrete evidence yet.

However, as much a Retina iPad Mini would be something to expect don't get your hopes up. It is completely understandable why Apple has not put one into it's medium size tablet. Retina displays actually made the iPad 3 (first with Retina display) thicker and heavier than the iPad 2. Apple would be giving up the very thin design of the Mini for a display that is not necessarily needed on the company's cheaper line of tablets. However, it seems the right time to do it, as Google launched it's new Nexus 7 which has an eye-watering 323 pixels per inch, and if Apple intends to keep up with Google, or overtake, they will need to push forward.

Also at the event will hopefully be that long awaited update (for me anyway) of the Mac Mini. This year we will see Haswell enter into the mini sized Mac. As well as the Mini, we are also expecting a couple of other Macs including the iMac and possibly MacBook Pro (or Retina?).

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/506677/20130917/apple-ipad-launch-15-october-new-imac.htm

WWDC

June is the month that all Apple-interested people out there get to find out what Apple has in store for us in the next year. That's because they hold their annual WWDC (World-Wide Developer Conference) where they do a few samples of products that are going to be released throughout the year. Normally we see a release of iOS and Mac OS X and this year is no different.

Apple released their app for iOS which explains the event lineup for those who attend and it gives us an idea as to what is going to be released. iOS 7 is the obvious one, as Scott Forstall once mentioned that Apple releases a new iOS every year and it is always announced at WWDC. According to Gizmondo, iOS will be flatter, following the same pattern Microsoft have gone with in Windows 8.

iOS 7's flat appearance

The new look is flatter and less colourful

The images are from Gizmodo and show how it will change. I'm particularly fond of one theme for all, rather than different themes everywhere (just look at Painter Pro) and I read the Guardian's article and quote this one important line:

The death of skeumorphism (seen in apps such as Find My Friends, which suffers faux leather stitching for no obvious reason, and Find My iPhone, which displays a bizarrely flickering compass needle while it "looks" for your device, and so on) will be widely celebrated. Scott Forstall, the former chief for iOS software, was known to be a fan of skeumorphism; Ive isn't.

Mac OS X 10.9 (speculation about the codename being Lynx seemed spot on, but due to the Unilever brand also sharing the name they chose not go down that route) also will be revealed. Will it move one step closer to being iOS in a Mac body? Who knows.

Other things that are expected are hints at some new Haswell hardware in the Mac lineup. Perhaps including that desirable Mac Mini, Mac Pro and Thunderbolt Display that have been long awaited. There is still that possibility of a full on television set coming from Apple and being announced at WWDC, that way apps can be developed ahead of the launch.

There may be an iPad 5 being announced and perhaps also an iPhone 5S (maybe a smaller iPhone). This is because the iPhone 5S may be released before the next model which is normally released in October. The iPad could be released because normally the release is around March and they did not release a new iPad this year.

I'll be following Redmond Pie for information when it get's released. You can read more here.

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