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Jamie BalfourA bit about me

This page is all about me, including my favourite things as well as my background. If you are genuinely interested in this stuff, please feel free to read on. If you are interested in me professionally, take a look at Jambour Digital.

Short bio

Captain Jamie Sparrow - just for fun

My full name is Jamie Bonnar Boris Baratheon Binary Balfour (the italic text is stuff I added in after I was born). I am also known by my high school nickname Binary Balfour.

I am a Scottish computer scientist who loves all technology with a particular love for software programming, web design and web development as well as writing about technology. I took a major interest in computers when I turned 7 years of age and I was mainly interested in the way that computers worked and connected to each other through networks and ports until I turned 14 and became interested in actually writing programs myself. I also share my love with education and really love teaching people the stuff I know.

I currently hold a Bachelor of Science (BSc) with a First Class Honours from Heriot-Watt University and a Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) from the University of Strathclyde.

My main hobbies include reading and writing about technology and electronics, and computer science (hardware, programming, user experience and web design/development particularly), which also happens to be my job, going out with my friends, playing video games, video editing and exploring the country (I particularly love rivers and mountains of Scotland and the places surrounding them). I also do cycling and archery in my spare time.

Me as a kid

Me as a child

You can view a timeline of my life below:

My timeline
1991
Born
๐Ÿฃ

I was born to Fiona and Roger Balfour in 1991. I lived in Edinburgh in Scotland for the first few years of my life.

1995
I play my first computer game: Warcraft Orcs and Humans
โš”๏ธ

I play my very first computer game in my dad's office. Warcraft Orcs and Humans quickly makes video games become one of my hobbies.

1996
I start primary school and get my first family computer
โœ๏ธ

I begin primary education at age 5. I meet two of my longest and best friends, Calum and Nick.

We get our first family computer manufactured by the company Tiny running an Intel Pentium II a 400MHz with a 1GB hard disk drive.

We also get connected to the Internet this year and we experienced Top Of The Pops streaming from the Internet.

1997
My first computer
๐Ÿ–ฅ

My first computer was a Unika Pentium III 600MHz. It was our first computer to feature USB ports and PCI slots rather than just ISA slots (although it did feature these too). From using this computer more and more, I became more interested in how computers work. It would not be long after that I dismantle my computer and look inside for the first time.

Also in 1997, I got my first laptop computer, a hand-me-down Olivetti P75 from my dad.

1998
I decide on my career and tinker with my computer
๐Ÿ› 

Although only age 7 at the time, it was at this point (primary 3) that I decided that I wanted to become a teacher when I grew up. I was one of the first people in my school to know what I wanted to be when I grew up too!

I also opened my first computer for the very first time this year, much to my father's disappointment! ๐Ÿ˜‚

2001
I become competent with computers
๐Ÿ”ฉ

I took a big interest in computing in 2001, when I wrote my very first short stories on the computer using Microsoft Publisher, without the aid of my parents. I would submit these to my teacher who was more impressed by the fact I was doing this on a computer without my parents' help at the age of 10.

2002
Warcraft III introduces me to programming
๐Ÿ•น

When Warcraft III came out I became very interested in trigger editing and how logic works on a computer. This was the first experience I had at programming (and also the release of my favourite game of all time).

We also got broadband this year, which meant I could enjoy the Internet without needing everyone off the phone. I became very fascinated by the Internet and start using it more and more.

2003
I start secondary school
๐Ÿค“

I begin secondary school at age 12. After a short period of time, I decide I want to go into a computing related career. I discover that I enjoy teaching and helping people understand things. I met some of my best friends in this year.

2004
I choose my first computer and I wrote my first program in VBA
๐Ÿ’ป

I chose my own computer for the first time, a Packard Bell EasyNote. I take a huge interest in computers.

My first ever application was a small script to work in Microsoft Word that taught me how Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) works.

2005
My first webpage and I learn VB.NET
โŒจ๏ธ

In 2005 I built my first ever HTML webpage. This was very basic and was written in an old version HTML. The page was all about the history of my favourite sport, badminton.

I also began to look into programming before learning it at school starting with the popular VB.NET language.

I also use SUSE Linux 9.0 for a whole 4 months as my main operating system.

2006
I begin programming at school
๐Ÿ˜ƒ

In school I had a headstart at programming since I had been self-teaching myself VB.NET. At school we used Visual Basic 6, which was nothing like VB.NET. I found it difficult to remember what was what because VB.NET changed so much, but I had learned enough that made it possible for me to excel at this.

I release beta versions of both FusionScape and Wonderword to my friends at school.

2007
Petro joined our family
๐Ÿฐ

We got Petro, our first family rabbit. Petro quickly became one of my best friends.

I also release Wonderword to friends and begin releasing my own software.

2008
Initial release of Painter Pro
๐Ÿ–Œ

The first major release of any of my own software was Painter Pro (version 1.2, aka St Andrews) was a major milestone for me - it had become something that people found useful.

Later that year I also released my first version of Wonderword to be ready for release and start using it for all of my school essays. As part of this I begin to develop my first programming language to allow automation within Wonderword.

2009
I get into university and build my first gaming PC
๐ŸŽฎ

When I finished at my secondary school I received the confirmation that I had got into several universities. I accepted my favourite choice at the time of a BSc with honours in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

I built my first gaming PC, The Platypus, and my first desktop computer system this year. It featured an Intel Core 2 Quad.

2010
Website launch (v1), big software releases and university

In April of this year I built and launched a website with only one real purpose, to distribute my software. Version 1.0 was built with my host's template system. Opening my website was one of the best decisions in my life.

I release Painter Pro and my BlackRabbit Script is designed and theorised.

I also started university this year but had to drop out because of health issues.

Later in the year I was diagnosed with a brain tumor - one of the most shocking things that could have happened to me. As a result, I had to increase my weight substantially from 35Kg to 90Kg in order to survive both radio and chemotherapy.

2011
I begin BlackRabbit and I buy my first Mac
๐ŸŽ

Early 2011 saw me start BlackRabbit Script, my scripting language for automating tasks using .NET. I also held an online discussion about how it could be improved.

I bought my first Mac OS X powered MacBook Pro in October 2011, making the switch from being an all-Windows user to a *nix user for the first time.

2012
University and website rebuild (v2)
๐Ÿ•ธ

In 2012 I restarted my BSc in Computer Science and quickly made lots of great new friends, particularly Jonathan.

I also began to learn web development and rebuilt my website in November. Much of what that version brought inspired the site as it is today. Version 2 was built upon version 1.

2013
Website rebuild (v3)
๐Ÿงฑ

My website gets it's first big refurbishment just ahead of our first web development course at university. Version 2.0 was released in January and version 3.0 in June of 2013. The version 3.0 update focused more on a responsive design and building everything from the bottom up.

I also took on freelance web development at this point and within weeks of finishing my own website, I had two websites to develop.

2014
Work begins on ZPE

I began work on my biggest project - the Zenith Parsing Engine, a parser, compiler and interpreter for ZenLang (now YASS), my own custom language.

Sadly I also lost my little rabbit and one of my best friends, Petro.

Sweep also joined our family this year.

2015
Work begins on my Web Neutral Project
๐Ÿ““

I refurbished what was called JBlogs into BalfBlog and began work on BalfBar and BalfRibbon this year under my Web Neutral Project (now my Web Independently Styled Project) - all of these lightweight projects are designed to improve the customisability of a website with a few clicks.

I officially declare the end of my software in .NET and become a multi-platform developer in Java.

I also become a teaching assistant and get the experience of running a class.

2016
ClickIt, I graduate and begin a PhD
๐ŸŽ“

As my BSc Honours project, I launch ClickIt, a drag and drop HTML editor designed to encourage and assist younger users into web development.

Despite never believing it would be possible for me to get a first class honours in my degree after all the struggles with my health within the last few months (being given an incorrect diagnosis), I eventually got there.

I took on a PhD at Heriot-Watt University researching how to keep children with autism safe online.

2017
I leave my PhD and find a new career
๐Ÿ”Ž

I realised that my PhD was not for me any longer and decided to move on to a new career on the 19th of January 2017 at Maglabs.

In January 2017, I lost Henry, and in May 2017 I lost Gismo.

I left Maglabs and went to work briefly for DH Systems before leaving that and starting my own business, Jambour Digital.

2018
Website rebuild (v4), Jambour Digital and teacher training
๐Ÿ“ˆ

In late 2017 I began to rebuild my personal website. In January 2018 I re-released it. When released, version 4 could cope with up to six times more concurrent requests than version 3 (thanks to DragonScript 3 and IV). As part of a major attempt to modernise my website, I had planned to go down the route of the full screen site, and for no reason other than liking my own website the way it is (remembering it's not a business website or one that is selling something) I decided to keep the design exactly as it was.

I finally get on track to get into and start teacher training which I had been wanting to do for a very long time.

I also started my own digital consultancy business under the name Jambour Digital ltd. Finally, I also got the opportunity to help kids learn to code at the local Code Club.

2019
ZPE 1.7.x and NQT
๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿซ

2019 was a big year for ZPE since the launch of version 1.7.4 made ZPE much better than before, adding tons of new features within the first weeks of the year. ZPE 1.7.x was one of the most important releases of the whole ZPE project.

I officially become a newly-qualified teacher (NQT) in May 2019.

Sadly, I lost Sweep on the 16th of October.

I got Charlie on the 6th of December 2019.

2020
ZPE 1.8.x and FQT
๐Ÿซ

ZPE 1.8.x brought major changes to ZPE as well as was a major improvement to the performance of it.

In July 2020, I became a fully qualified teacher (FQT).

2021
I move to my own house
๐Ÿ 

After buying my own house at age 25 and then changing my mind because I wanted something better in my career, I bought another house when I was age 27 and this time I moved into it at age 29 on February 19th 2021 (actually, because of a delay it ended up as February 22nd 2021).

Inspirational people

This is a list of people who have inspired me or I just find inspiring.

  • Alan Turing
  • Andy Murray
  • Bill Gates
  • Charles Kennedy
  • David Lloyd George
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Roger Federer
  • Robin Williams
  • Steve Jobs
  • Baroness Shirley Williams
  • Sir Tom Farmer
  • Elon Musk

I also always say that several of my primary and high school teachers as well as several (most) of my university lecturers were inspirational people in my life.

Favourites

Music

I love rock music but I also love a bit of dance music.

My favourite bands are Oasis, Kasabian, Muse and Pendulum.

I also love music from Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey. I'm very much a fan of other kinds of music including dance, rock and even some pop music.

Gaming

I like to remember that the first game I ever played was an MS-DOS game called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, which has now evolved into Starcraft II and World Of Warcraft. Since first playing Warcraft, Blizzard has always made my favourite games - Warcraft of some kind has always been there.

My favourite game genre is strategy. The list of favourite games can be found in my articles, but here are the top 10.

The list is generated from the number of hours I estimate I have played of the game mixed with what I think should go where.

  1. Warcraft III (and The Frozen Throne)
  2. Age of Empires II (and the Definitive Edition)
  3. Command and Conquer 95 (and DTA)
  4. Diablo II
  5. The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
  6. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  7. Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (remakes of my favourite Pokémon games)
  8. Metroid Prime
  9. Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  10. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

These games are only in alphabetical order (sorted using my list sorter from my old website).

  • 007: Nightfire
  • Age of Empires III
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Command and Conquer 3
  • Croc 2
  • Croc Legend of the Gobbos
  • Diablo III
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
  • Forza 4
  • F-Zero GX
  • Goldeneye N64
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Halo 3
  • Halo Reach
  • Mario 64
  • Mario Kart
  • Mario Party 4
  • Mario Party 5
  • Metroid Prime: Echoes
  • Minecraft
  • Pikmin
  • Pikmin 2
  • Pikmin 3
  • Pokemon Colosseum
  • Pokemon Gold and Silver
  • Pokemon Red and Blue
  • Pokemon X/Y
  • Soul Calibur II
  • Spyro The Dragon
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Starcraft II
  • Starfox Adventures
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Super Mario Sunshine
  • Super Smash Bros Melee
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
  • Warcraft Orcs and Humans

Films and TV

Everyone knows that I am a James Bond series fan. I love them from start to finish, Sean Connery to Daniel Craig. Other films I like include:

  • Die Hard
  • Executive Decision
  • Enemy of the State
  • Harry Potter
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Insidious
  • James Bond
  • Jaws
  • Jurassic Park & Jurassic World
  • Men In Black
  • Patriot Games
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Resident Evil
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Spiderman
  • Stars Wars
  • The Descent
  • The Eagle Has Landed
  • The Fast and the Furious
  • The Mist
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Under Siege
  • Wanted
  • Where Eagles Dare
  • Zoolander

My favourite actor, who appears in at least four of the films I love, is Christopher Lee (The Man With The Golden Gun, The Hobbit, Star Wars, Sleepy Hollow). I also love Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained, Spectre to name a few). My other favourite actors are the amazing Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter and Alice In Wonderland) as well as the amazing Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland). A list of my favourite actors and actresses can be found here on IMDB.

In terms of TV shows/series, Spooks is number one. It is followed very closely by Jed Mercurio's Line of Duty and Bodyguard and then by The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Hustle as being my favourites.

Places

I am a huge fan of Perthshire - Scotland's Heartland. I love the mountains ranging from Schiehallion to Ben Lawers and the Glenshee mountain range, as well as the hundreds of lochs in Perthshire ranging from the first loch I ever stayed on; Loch Earn to Loch Tay to Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel and the rivers such as the Tay, Tummel, Garry, Isla, Earn and more, all of which make Perthshire the perfect place to be.

One of my favourite things about the world is rivers, I am quite interested in the confluences of rivers (point where two or more rivers become one), as I find these to be the most attractive parts of the countryside in the UK.

My favourite places in the UK, and places I'd be happy to live are:

  • Aberfeldy
  • Berwick-Upon-Tweed
  • Blairgowrie
  • Braemar
  • Callander
  • Crainlarich
  • Dunkeld
  • Haddington
  • Kenmore
  • Killin
  • Kinlochleven
  • Kinloch Rannoch
  • Lindisfarne
  • Oban
  • Pitlochry

Technologies I know

I am currently skilled with the following technologies:

C++
C#
Java
Python
VB.NET
ZPE/YASS
HTML 5
CSS 3
JavaScript
PHP
MySQL
D3 JS
jQuery
React
Apache
Linux
Docker
Git

In total, I know 8 programming languages (not including HTML, CSS and SQL) really well currently.

My website

Whilst you can read more about this website and it's technical information here, I thought I might explain it very quickly here. I built this site with the intention of gaining an online presence and nothing more.

As support has kept growing this website has gained much more success and potential and has expanded to have more than that. I can finally share the information I wanted to on the web without being restricted by some platform.

I am very proud of my website, which I have built from the ground up, and would encourage you to leave feedback.

Interesting projects

The following are a few of the projects that interest me:

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