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

Browsers

NPAPI or Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface was the norm for a very long time in web browsers. It was a single standard that allowed all browsers to use plugins. But plugins have plauged the web for a long time too. One of the most well known plugins, Adobe Flash, had become pretty much everywhere, requiring users to download a plugin for the system. It used NPAPI. On top of this, plugins were cumbersome to develop and meant developers needed to know several in order to achieve the results they wanted. Now the web is finally moving away from a plugin interface to a much more standards based interface.

NPAPI was the interface (a set of methods which each plugin must implement) which all plugins complied with. This was originally developed by Netscape, one of the original companies to develop a web browser and Microsoft's competitor in the first browser war. Netscape developed many standards and one of them was this plugin interface that has left us in the messy situation we are in now.

NPAPI has been around for a long time, but last year was supposed to be the end of it. In 2015 Mozilla announced they had plans to drop NPAPI by the end of 2016. This was later brought back to March 2017. Chrome has already dropped NPAPI and did so in September of 2015, only after turning support off by default in April that same year. Google cited that it "has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity" thus that the older architecture of it needs "to evolve the standards-based web platform". It's important to note that NPAPI is an architecture from the 90s when the web began to take shape and at that point we were using HTML 3.2 and lower. Since then HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript have all brought huge improvements to the standards-based web. 

Many plugins already exist that take advantage of NPAPI including Flash and the Java applet plugin. But both of these can be replaced by much more modern solutions. 

By removing the NPAPI browser developers are encouraging standards. They are making it more difficult for those who develop these plugins to make them a part of the future. By doing this they are offering a safer web environment for everyone. They are also ensuring that there is no longer the complicated mess of choice that Netscape and Microsoft once supported through the NPAPI and that we live in a standards controlled environment where no one company owns the web.

A standards based website is the way to go and older websites need to update to catch up with standards. Nobody has time for these older websites that rely on these plugins now, they themselves are slow and ineffective and need to catch up. 

For the very first time in my life I will be switching to an Android powered smartphone. This switch will be one of the biggest ones I have ever made, much like the way I switched from Windows to Mac OS X in 2011.

My smartphone history

Apple have been my thing for the last seven years or so (although I've wanted a Mac since I was in my fourth year of school in 2006, just my parents refused to see any benefit since my dad worked for companies such as Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell and Fujitsu amongst others). The switch to Apple from Windows was easy - the hardware of the Mac appealed and OS X was a side effect of that hardware. After using it for some time I got used to OS X and it became my daily driver OS. 

The first time I owned an iOS powered smartphone took place all the way back in 2009, but I would not say I switched from Windows Mobile completely (I have been a smartphone user for a lot longer than the majority of people, since I owned my first smartphone in 2005 and second in 2008). When I got my iPhone 3GS in July 2009, I was somewhat disappointed and decided in 2011 to switch back to Windows for my smartphone operating system. I assumed that it would be somewhat similar to my old Windows Mobile devices and that with time the operating system would get better. Indeed it did, with the release of Windows Phone Mango I got a few new updates, but most of them were not enough to make the phone as usable as my old iOS powered device. Every day owning my Windows Phone I felt envious of my friends with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

In October 2011, I got my first MacBook Pro, a 2011" 13" model. It was a great machine and ran Windows exceptionally well, and whilst I originally was just a Windows user on it, I occasionally switched to OS X and messed about with it. As I became more and more interested in shell scripting and, more importantly, became a web developer, Mac OS X appealed more and more to me.

In October 2012, I went back to Apple for my next iPhone. This time the iPhone 5 (which also just so happens to have been my favourite phone I've ever owned at it's time) was the big thing. I had to terminate my contract with my old Windows Phone and took out a new contract with Orange (who became EE shortly after). I got 4G and many new great features with this phone that I could only have dreamt of with my Windows Phone device. 

My iPhone 5 lasted until October 2014, but I had originally planned on not upgrading it for a while. However, the iPhone 6 got my attention with it's much larger screen (and although the smaller screen appeals to me again now, at the time, the larger screen was worth looking at) and within a few weeks I had myself an iPhone 6 for less than I was paying for my iPhone 5 with more data and unlimited texts and so on. The iPhone 6 lasted me well and I planned not to replace it with a new phone but when it's contract came up for renewal I put the three deals that I found side-by-side comparing the possibility of an upgrade to the iPhone 7, a SIM-only deal that was a third of the price of my current contract with eight times the amount of data or a Samsung Galaxy S7 for the same price and a £29 up front payment. In the end, I chose the latter.

A Samsung Galaxy?!

I think many will be shocked at my decision to make the switch. However, I made this switch for two reasons.

First of all, curiosity. I've used an Android tablet before for some several years, only to replace it with an iPad two years later. I was curious to know exactly what an Android powered smartphone would be like for me. If I like it enough, would I be prepared to infiltrate my Apple ecosystem with an Android device again in the future? Would I replace my iPad in the future with another Android tablet (very unlikely)? Would I be prepared to drop the whole Apple ecosystem and just select what devices appeal the most to me? And finally, could I live without the interoperability of all of my Apple devices? These questions are ones which will be answered from the first couple of weeks of use of the Galaxy S7. Whilst I would say I am somewhat confident I could switch my iPhone for another device that has pretty much the same (and more) capabilities as it, I am still not certain that it will become the phone I have always wanted. 

The second reason, change. I needed a change from Apple's iOS on my smartphone. I've used it now for two smartphones in a row. Even when I took out the iPhone 6 I was a bit worried I'd become massively bored of iOS after several weeks. As a technology enthusiast, Android also appeals to my developer side more than iOS. This reason was even more important than the first reason because it opens me up to the wider market, meaning I won't be restricted to iOS if I like Android enough.

I already swear by Samsung's AV equipment and have been buying Samsung televisions since 2006. My last Samsung phone was in 2006 also - a phone which I adored since it was one of the first slide phones with 3G (so I could watch live TV on my phone at school, pretty awesome to be honest).

The answer to this will be revealed only with time (and in my review which will be coming soon).

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.

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.

Not that I had not mentioned it already, but Apple were supposedly getting ready with the launch of a new product range. It has now come to light that it could in fact be a games console, evidence suggests based on new features brought to iOS 7.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/06/sorry-consoles-apples-controller-support-spells-trouble-for-you/

Posted from my Wii U.

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