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

Heriot-Watt University, the university I received a First Class Honours degree from, celebrated it's Royal Charter in 1966, making 2016 the 50th anniversary of this event. I was a graduate of this university at this time.

To add to this, the celebrations in 2016 continued since the Computer Science degree was first launched in 1966 by Alex Balfour (now that's convenient) after a lot of hard work to bring it to Heriot-Watt. This was the first Computer Science degree in Scotland. Quite remarkable that now I'm celebrating this too. 

It seems like almost all of my time at university I've been celebrating some anniversary, first Alan Turing's 100th birthday, then 50 years of James Bond, then the Royal Charter and then the first Computer Science degree in Scotland.

I'm proud to have my degree from this university and to have stuck with it for the four years, despite the number of times I had considered quitting.

Today I graduated! This is the happiest day of my life and I'm so very proud of what I have achieved to this day!

Back in 1997, when I was aged 6, I got my first computer. I quickly learned the ins and outs of it and was very into writing my own stuff and really enjoyed writing stories. As I was using my computer more and more I took an interest in how it works. By age 9, I was very interested in computer hardware and how they worked.

In my first year at high school, I realised that I was really good at working with computers and people were coming to me for computer help more and more (including my teachers). It was then that I decided I want to do something related to computers. I always knew I wanted to go to university so I put two and two together and in 2009 I applied to several universities to study computer science with Heriot-Watt being my top choice. I was accepted and my course began in 2012. 

My time at Heriot-Watt university has had its ups and downs and I've needed support from time to time. At Heriot-Watt support is always there for those who ask. I had a friendly bunch of lecturers who were always on your side and there to help. 

I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me at Heriot-Watt but I'd like to specifically thank a few people including Lorriane Vallance, Dr Tessa Berg, Dr Helen Hastie, Professor Rob Pooley, Professor Andrew Ireland, Dr Fiona McNeill, Dr Jenny Coady, Dr Santiago Chumbe and Professor Greg Michaelson. I'd also like to thank Professor Judy Robertson and Dr Sandy Louchart for their support in my first to third years, who have since moved to other universities. 

I’d also like to thank my friends and classmates, particularly Jonathan, Merlin, Mark and Sharang who stuck with me through thick and thin in the last year, as without them I would not be celebrating this day.

My poster is finished. This means I have done all of the work other than presenting my poster and I have finished all of my uni work. :-)

I now feel epic and that I can finally relax! Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my time at university. 

The next few months will be a difficult few for me as I have to work much harder than normal on my university course.

Now in my final semester of my final year at university, I can finally see the end of it all and feel like I have the potential to finish it.

However, over this time I will likely end up neglecting my website and it's content. I may post a blog entry every so often but there will be no major content added to the site. 

If you want to get in touch with me, feel free to contact mecontact me using the usual methods.

2015 was generally a really good year for me.

First of all, third year of university, I managed to get 6 Bs and 2 As, which is good enough for me and I achieved an average of 67% (if this average continued I'd be en route for a second class honours, although a first class honours is not impossible either).

My fourth year at university started out good, and I got several good marks back; 86% for one coursework, 74% (part one of my dissertation) for another and then 70% for another. The rest of my courses seem to have gone well too, so we'll see what happens with them. I did have a small breakdown during the 5th week of semester one, but that has happened before in my second year (admittedly, not quite as seriously). I nearly quit university despite getting good grades down to stress!

This year, I was also formally asked if I wanted to become a lab helper in one of my favourite courses involving one of my favourite aspects of computer science in a course called Web design and Databases. I've always wanted to be a lab helper, so this is a great opportunity for me.

On top of this, I finally got the opportunity to work in school as a teacher as part of one of my university courses. This has been one of, if not the, greatest experiences of my life. I am thoroughly enjoying this. 

As a result of one of the courses I did in this year of university, I also improved my own programming language, finally bringing an end to BlackRabbit Script and replacing it with my new Zenith Language. Most of my free time this year has been spent on the Zenith Parsing Engine (or Zengin) and now it has become one of the most, if not the most, important projects I work on now. In March I started ZPE and then it was restarted in May with a proper compiler. 

In terms of my website, I would say it has been at it's best since I started. This year I focused on reducing the size of my JavaScript files and CSS files and I managed to reduce over 30KB of data. On top of that, I managed to reduce the amount of HTML produced on mobile devices using a PHP library called Mobile Detect. I also finally made the decision to stop tweaking the design of my website in September after I changed the sidebar. The vast majority of the website has remained consistent since then. One major change did happen after that however, with the change from my inconsistent curved style to a much flatter design. One example of this is what I call my pill inputs:

My pills

The new 'pills' design that came to my website was all about creating a flatter look.

2015 was also a very successful year for my website. Across the whole year, 1,940 users have visited my website and over 40,000 pages have been visited. Of all visitors, 1,940 of the pages visited are also by new visitors. As well as this, Zengin has been downloaded some 500 times since May!

My tutorials featured on my website also got recognised by the online tutorial maker Udemy. They claimed to really like my website and the tutorials that I have written.

I also brought my own menu to my website, called JBBar, a free and open source menu bar that can be downloaded from my website. This replaces the jQuery Smartmenus menu that came with a lot of extra baggage. 

As well as this, I created my first website for a business, which went very smoothly and has been named very 'innovative' by many. In fact, I'm so proud of that website that it also backward inspired my own website.

JBlogs also got a huge upgrade, becoming object-oriented and easier to use. Not only that, but a lot of security issues were patched and the design became more flexible to other websites. It took me less than an hour to put JBlogs on to a Bootstrap themed website (more on that in the new year) and it integrated pretty perfectly. JBlogs also became more efficient than it was at the end of 2015 as a result of this new design.

I also managed to achieve one whole year of being a pescatarian in September this year - something I'm very proud of!

Just before I finish, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who has been there for me this year, particularly when I've had problems! The main people this year are my good friends Jonathan, Mark and Merlin, who have made this year much easier for me! Without this trio I'd most likely have left university. I'd also like to thank Rob and Helen (lecturers) for convincing me to stay and helping me feel up again! Of course, I cannot forget to mention all of the other people at university, who have also always been there for me. 

So that's another year almost over. 2015 was generally a great year. Now let's hope 2016 is also a great year!

This is only the third time I have used Java (ie twice last week at university) and I have now cracked it. I am now remembering my semi-colons and braces that make up the Java language syntax.

I must say I have noticed my work getting better as I just created a simple program to get each pixel in an image and invert the colour of it. The image is specified as an argument to the application and it runs through the application and saves it. I am very impressed with my progress and this makes a fourth programming language that I have learned.

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