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

Java is a great programming language and platform to work in but in it's best moods it is, at best, a pain.

Today I fixed a huge issue that I thought was just with Java, but discovered it was so much more than just Java's fault. An application I use on my Mac called Flexiglass was causing problems. 

When I open a menu item within a Java application (such as the basic GUI builder in my ZPE editor) I get the following error: 'component must be showing on the screen to determine its location'.

This comes from Flexiglass, since Flexiglass changes a few system properties and therefore interferes with Java's menu system in some way or another. Anyway, the fix is to turn off the two checkboxes as pictured below:

The fix

The simple fix is to switch off two checkboxes

Macs are now saving IBM money, according to Mac Rumours.

Also, Apple are releasing a new range of input devices, according to The Verge.

Also updated are the Retina iMacs with both models receiving updates.

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.

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.

When I first started to use Mac OS X, Finder's Spotlight was quite a simple piece of technology - search your system for what you need when you need it. I used to also very much dislike the iOS Spotlight until iOS 7 which made it easy to use and now I use it to run any app on my iPhone or iPad.

I got very used to the idea of using Spotlight for starting apps and now I do it to open anything on my system because it's just so fast. There's even a shortcut that will let you open it and type in what you need in a flash (which is ⌘ + SPACE).

But there is so much more to Spotlight now. 

Here I've demonstrated my favourite use - a calculator:

Using it as a calculator means you can write out the expression very quickly and it supports a range of different mathematical features including the following keywords:

  • sin, cos, tan, sqrt
  • ^ - power
  • % - modulo
  • Brackets

This is just a few of the useful calculator operations you can do from your Spotlight search on your Mac.

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:

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

And you are done!

I have noticed this time and time again, but for all you people who have never experienced the Mac experience, this is how your PC looks from a Mac's Finder:

This is how Macs see PCs

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

If you are not familiar with Mac OS X Terminal commands, then you may be unaware of the flexibility it gives you.

For a start, one of my favourite things to do is to change the way the Dock works. I'm going to show you two different yet really cool things you can do with the Mac Dock.

Add a separator to the Dock

This is a real nifty trick that helps separate icons on the Dock so that there is a better structure. I'm still surprised that Apple does not include an easy way to use this feature in the Apple Menu.

So here are the Terminal commands:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{tile-data={}; tile-type="spacer-tile";}'
killall Dock

Lock the Dock

To me locking the Dock on Mac OS is a necessary feature. This again is completed via the Terminal. This can be achieved using the following commands:

defaults write com.apple.Dock contents-immutable -bool yes
killall Dock

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:


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