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

Mac OS X has featured a dashboard for a long time. It was introduced in Mac OS X 'Tiger' (version 10.4) and since Mac OS X Lion (10.7) it has received barely any attention from the developers.

OS X Dashboard

Dashboard still has yet to change

But now since Lion it has had absolutely no updates. It still looks like something from pre-Yosemite with it's skeuomorphic icons and it just doesn't fit into OS X. I love the dashboard in OS X, but it looks close to it's end.

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.

Finally, I have managed to get Windows 10. And the good news is it was so easy to install on my Mac (not like my PCs). 

Windows 10 scaling features work well, unlike Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 so I can finally use the high DPI of my Mac's display with Windows. I've been waiting for some time (since August 2014) to use Windows on my Mac (I had Windows until April of that year on my older MacBook and I've always had it on my Mac mini as well) and it's nice to finally have it again!

My tablet has just finished upgrading to Windows 10 as well due to the fact that unlike the installer Microsoft has been giving out, 'burning' a plain old ISO to a USB drive on my Mac works.

I will finally get round to doing my review. In general, I'm positive about the experience I'm going to have with this OS, considering Microsoft's tick-tock cycle of good OS (ME, XP, 7, 10) then bad OS (2000, Vista, 8).

Apple are now my favourite company. This is contrary to what I believed some four years ago, where I was only considering a MacBook Pro because of it's beautiful design and ability to run Windows (which I intended to do).

Furthermore, for the first few years - from when I got my family got our first Mac in 2009, we ran Windows 7 as the primary operating system. I even had an argument with my mother that there was no point in running OS X because half the stuff you want to do isn't available. This went even further when I got my MacBook Pro in 2011 - I bought it for the design and having OS X as a background OS.

It wasn't until about mid-2013 that I really started to use Mac OS X for my every day activities, in February 2014 I actually started to use Mac OS X as my main operating system and have barely used Windows at all since then and in November 2014 I ditched Windows on my Mac. Not only is OS X a more secure operating system, it has features like the Bash (Bourne Again SHell), iMessage and much more just built into the operating system. Things have changed so drastically since Snow Leopard but that's not saying that Snow Leopard wasn't good, because now that I look back at when I made the change to Mac with Snow Leopard I never had any problems at all. 

Macs are actually getting more and more popular, with the decline in the PC industry pushing the Mac sales up (do not forget: computer sales actually come from businesses too, and businesses are more likely to be buying PCs - although probably not much longer as hardware advancements push users to use the abomination of Windows 8 which was clearly designed for nothing but tablets and 'touch-screen desktops').

Here are a summary of the best things about Apple's products:

  • Great quality hardware
  • Everything integrates well between iOS and Mac OS X
  • Mac OS X
  • Innovations throughout the operating system

On Mac OS X, you have many different ways to take screenshots:

  • Command + Shift + 3 - takes a fullscreen screen shot of the system and saves it to the Desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4 - takes a screen shot of an area that you select using the selection rectangle that appears after then stores it on the Desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4 then SPACE - takes a screen shot of a selected window on the display and stores it on the Desktop
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 3 - takes a fullscreen screen shot and stores it on the clipboard
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4 - takes a screen shot of an area that you select using the selection rectangle that appears after then stores it on the clipboard
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4 then SPACE - takes a screen shot of a selected window on the display and stores it on the clipboard

I use the second one the most, because I find it more useful to have a copy of the screen shot on my system. But the problem is, I end up with too many images on my desktop.

I'd really like to fix this by making the screen shots go to my Pictures/Screenshots/ directory. So a bit of looking around the web and I found the solution using Bash:

To start with open up a new Terminal window. This can be found in Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app.

Write/copy the following on a single line:

Bash
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures/; killall SystemUIServer

And you are done!

This is my review of the MacBook Pro with Retina display 2013 15" laptop by Apple and you may be quite surprised by it.

It can be found here.

It's been speculated for sometime that a new Mac Mini is next on the line up for Apple. Well, once again, the Belgian store computerstore.com has placed on their site a new Mac Mini, featuring Iris graphics.

The picture below shows that the CPU and RAM have yet to be placed here but the Iris graphics definitely sounds like a new feature. From this, we can assume it to be Haswell powered and not a future generation of Intel CPU that is going to take us by surprise in April.

Mac Minis on display

The lack of a new Mac Mini is frustrating

A recent survey of 150,000 PCs shows that Apple computers are the best at running Windows. Not surprisingly I have Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro. Unlike any of my other three current computers which are a custom PC, Fujitsu Lifebook T4410 tablet and an Asus Eee PC 1020, the MacBook Pro has never met any errors - despite the fact that it is used more than the latter two. After one and a half years running smoothly on Windows 7, it still outperforms my desktop getting to the Windows Desktop even after a reformat. My MacBook Pro has an i5 2.3GHz whereas my desktop has an i7 3.4GHz and double the RAM.

Anyway, here is the link for the information:

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/apple-mac-best-windows-114620?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=obclick&obref=obinsource

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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