Jamie Balfour

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Jamie Balfour'sPersonal blog

Jamie Balfour'sPersonal blog

Today is my birthday. Today, I'm 33 years old. 32 was a very cool number, but 33 is also a cool number. I don't feel 33.

That's all.

My amazing nana would have been 99 years old today. Born on July 12, 1925, she was one of the most inspirational people in my life. She supported me and shaped me into what I am today. Although she was very tough on me when I was a teenager, this was solely for my good, and it changed me from being soft into a much more resilient person. 

Tomorrow, I'll be 33; my mum is 66 years old, so I'm now half her age. But also, I'll be a third of what my nana's age would have been if she was still here.

May of this marked 15 years since we lost her. The last 15 years have flown by, and I still miss her very much.

Namespaces are finally here with ZPE 1.12.8! They are essential for organising libraries and structures throughout programs. Look at the code below to see how they work:

structure HTMLBuilder

  namespace jsmith/packages

  * Functions go here
  * ...

end structure

$builder = new jsmith/packages/HTMLBuilder()

I'm delighted with my new photo sorting tool, which I developed to help me organise over 20,000 photos from the last six or so years. 

Today, I sorted just over 900 photos and videos in just over an hour. This would have taken a lot longer in the past and required a bit more thinking with the drag-and-drop process of moving files and previewing each image or video. Although this only runs on my MacBook and is pretty fixed to a folder, I've written it so that it could indeed be changed.

It's also been a really easy application to write and only requires a few lines of code, all of which are embedded into one PHP file. It does require a web server to run and knowledge of how to use symb links.

Once I'm done with it, I'll post the source code to my GitHub.

After losing (or potentially being picked up by someone) my previous AirPods (first-generation Pros, bought in 2020), I constantly debated between purchasing new ones or attempting to find my existing ones. AirPods serve one purpose: to listen to audio.

It's simply not exciting to buy new AirPods like it is with a new MacBook or, on occasion, an iPhone. That meant there seemed to be more value in finding my old AirPods over buying new ones and dropping £250 on something that does mostly the same as the previous ones. That said, I've been using other earphones for the time being, and the difference between them and the AirPods they are covering for is phenomenal. I have seriously missed them.

Almost two months have passed since I first noticed I couldn't find them, and I must admit, it's been not easy without them. Going on runs or walks without them and using poor-quality earphones has been awful. Switching between my MacBook and my iPhone or Apple Watch has been a bit of a nightmare, but worst of all, I cannot watch films in my bedroom late at night with my windows open because my wireless earphones will not connect to my TV as my AirPods do. These are just small things, and I do get it, but I never like perpetually looking for something, and at some point, you do need to declare enough is enough and buy replacement ones - they just weren't going to show up.

So I did just that. I took my advice and opted to drop £230 on new ones to replace something that may eventually turn up.

How these change my technological lifestyle

These AirPods have resulted in a significant milestone in my technological life. The 2nd generation AirPods Pro now features USB-C charging, a game changer for me. One of my childhood 'dreams', I guess, was that one day, we would have one connector for everything. USB attempted this, but it didn't quite do it as it didn't support everything (such as video streams over the connector), so it wasn't really the right connector for everything. That's where USB-C changed everything, as I said back in 2015 when discussing Thunderbolt 3. 

Now, my AirPods mean I no longer need a Lightning cable in my backpack. USB-C charges everything, and while I use my MagSafe connector with my MacBook Pro more than any other, at least my MacBook Pro can be charged with USB-C if that was all I had.

Finally, one connector that does it all.


Last night was one of the most significant landslide victories ever achieved by a party in the UK's history. Although not as substantial as Blair's or Thatcher's victories, the fact that the Conservative party has dropped so low is awe-inspiring.

Below is an interactive graph showing the number of seats gained graphically:

And here is another one showing the share of the vote achieved by each party, and it's not quite as red as the previous graph:

I'm most impressed by Ed Davey, who has drawn me back to the Liberal Democrats again.

Strangely, this is the first time I've had a new UK government since I started to vote 14 years ago.

This is an exciting time in politics personally as this represents the first change in a long time. Keir Starmer seems like an honest guy (he'd have to be to have worked in law beforehand), and I feel he's the right person to do the job. The Lib Dems have recovered very well from this election, too, and I'm not surprised with Ed at the helm.

Starmer seems to care for all four parts of the country too:

We clearly on Thursday got a mandate from all four nations. For the first time in 20 plus years we have a majority in England, in Scotland and in Wales and that is a clear mandate to govern for all four corners of the United Kingdom and therefore I shall set off tomorrow to be in all four nations.

Election icons created by Freepik - Flaticon

I usually come up with codenames for the next version of ZPE quite far in advance, and this year is no exception. 

For version 1.13, the following codenames have been decided:

  1. Petergate
  2. Micklegate
  3. Davygate
  4. Castlegate
  5. Monkgate
  6. Goodramgate
  7. Fossgate
  8. Colliergate
  9. Gillygate
  10. Walmgate
  11. Coppergate
  12. Stonegate

The inspiration for these codenames came from the City of York, where I recently had a short break.

ZPE 1.12.7 is now available to download. This version brings sweeping changes to the way that libraries are imported into YASS code and the ZRE; it introduces bubbling, brings breakpoints to ZPE, fixes an issue with permission levels not being read correctly, and, perhaps most importantly, adds unescaped string literals to the YASS language.

All of these features makes ZPE 1.12.7 one of the most jam-packed releases of ZPE to date.

Here is a program for a linear search I wrote in YASS some few months ago.

function linearSearch($item_list, $search_item) : number | boolean {
  $found = false
  $index = 0 
  $position = -1 
  while ($index < count($item_list) and $found == false){ 
      if ($item_list[$index] == $search_item){ 
       $found = true 
         $position = $index 
      print("Item found at position", $position)  
  } else{ 
      print("Item not found")  
function main(){ 
  $l = [3, 5, 7] 
  linearSearch($l, 6) 

And here it is converted to Python using ZenPy:

def linearSearch(item_list, search_item):
  found = False
  index = 0
  position = -1
  while index < len(item_list) and found == False:
    if item_list[index] == search_item:
      found = True
      position = index

    index += 1

  if found:
    print("Item found at position", position)
    print("Item not found")

def main():
  l = [3, 5, 7]
  linearSearch(l, 5)


I have been seeking to add breakpoints to ZPE for the last seven years, and I have finally succeeded. 

They work using the new bubbling technique I have developed. In ZPE, bubbles are exceptions; a breakpoint is a simple bubble. Bubbles go all the way to the top of the runtime and are handled by the parent. Complex bubbles work entirely differently, and although they are also bubbles, they can be handled by different parts of the program. 

A breakpoint is added to YASS code by writing #breakpoint# where the code should break. In the GUI mode, it will display a variable watch window:

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