Jamie Balfour

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Jamie BalfourMy timeline

Jamie BalfourMy timeline

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

I play my first computer game: Warcraft Orcs and Humans

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.

I start primary school and get my first family computer

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.

My first computer

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.

Finally, I also got my Nintendo 64 - my very first games console - this year.

I decide on my career and tinker with my computer

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! 😂

I hear and love Oasis

Perhaps not the most important milestone in my life, but I heard Oasis, the band that still remains as my favourite band, for the first time and fell in love with their music.

I become competent with computers

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.

Warcraft III introduces me to programming

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.

I also discovered Travis, another band that has been in my top five favourite bands of all time since then.

I start secondary school

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.

I choose my first computer and I wrote my first program in VBA

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.

I also bought my very first album, Paper Tigers by the Caesars.

My first webpage and I learn VB.NET

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.

I begin programming at school

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 won the award for the Young Scottish Programmer of Year (under 16s) this year as well!

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

Petro joined our family

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.

Initial release of Painter Pro

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.

I get into university and build my first gaming PC

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.

I discover two of my favourite bands, Kasabian and Muse.

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.

I begin BlackRabbit and I buy my first Mac

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. BlackRabbit Script evolved into my YASS language.

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.

University and website rebuild (v2)

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 and not a complete rebuild from nothing.

Website rebuild (v3)

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.

Work begins on ZPE

I began work on my biggest project - the Zenith Parsing Engine (now ZPE Programming Environment), 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.

Work begins on my Web Neutral Project

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.

ZPE also got a big update, with a much, much faster parser as the basis of it.

ClickIt, I graduate and begin a PhD

As my BSc Honours project, I launch ClickIt, a drag and drop HTML editor designed to encourage and assist younger users into web development. I received the highest award in the university for my achievement - beating some 9,000 people to the award. ClickIt became so popular very quickly that I had to upgrade my webserver as well.

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 also started work as a volunteer at Knox Academy.

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

I leave my PhD and find a new career

I realised that my PhD was not for me any longer and needed to get a job which paid enough for me to move out 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.

Website rebuild (v4), Jambour Digital and teacher training

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 did this at the University of Strathclyde.

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.

ZPE 1.7.x and NQT

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, my first pet since Tick Tock.

ZPE 1.8.x and FQT

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) and started teaching at Newbattle Community High School.

I move to my own house

After putting down a deposit on a 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).

I also caught COVID-19 this year and ended up hospitalised on the 27th of August.

I finally pass my driving test and Knox Academy

At the start of the year, I decided that I was going to look for a new job. I also attempted my driving test for the second time. I unfortunately failed it. A week after that, I applied to one of the schools I always wanted to work at and didn't get offered the job.

I then passed my driving test on the 17th of May 2022. Finding the time was difficult, particularly as I had to cancel six of them before. This time I was ready and I passed!

I also got a new job exactly one week later, this time at Knox Academy - where I have always wanted to work!

I got my first car

I had a six month wait for my car - delay after delay and no response from the dealership, it finally arrived in June 2023. My first car was an MG4 EV - a fast and nippy electric car and I love it!

I also started my Master's Degree (MSc) in Computer Science in October. For the sake of variety, I am doing this at the University of York.