To use this website fully, you first need to accept the use of cookies. By agreeing to the use of cookies you consent to the use of functional cookies. For more information read this page.

Personal Blog

I am always banging on about a better web, especially through the Twitter Hashtag #BetterWeb, but the technology behind the web is becoming better and better. Nowadays things like being able to access system information such as the battery life are becoming a real thing - meaning that the native app may soon disappear to the already multi-platform web.

If you do not already follow me on Twitter, please do so that you can get my latest ideas for improving the web.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

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

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

As much as one of my YouTube videos states that Windows 8 is in my opinion a recommendation, I will not be purchasing it. Sure DirectX 12 will not function on Windows 7 and that means I cannot take advantage of this great new API. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make me give up features that I use and need on a regular basis.

Windows 8

For a start, I do not think I could give up the Aero glass theme as I am and have always been a fan of the theme. I could live without it but I would rather not have to trade in something I love for something that I may prefer for features like DirectX 12. There's no real games for DX12 at present anyway.

The next reason is because I have bought loads of software for Windows 7 (much more than before) and a lot of this is now incompatible with Windows 8, for example Stardock Windows Blinds 7. Even if it is compatible, most of it loses its novelty. Additionally, my Logitech QuickCam Sphere is supposedly incompatible with Windows 8.

I will not be upgrading my desktop, MacBook Pro or netbook to Windows 8. In fact, this business is pushes me to love Mac OS X more and more by the day.

Finally, I have heard that because of the fact that it is a new design of the Windows operating system, it is glitchy from the kernel upwards. I am not going too much into this but I have discovered that a lot of drivers that I used on 7 do not work with 8. Therefore, compatibility is something that I would lose with a lot of hardware. I just could not use 8 without full compatibility.

Since I now own Stardock WindowBlinds 8 for Windows 8 after the recent release, I have since transferred over to Windows 8 and I am loving it. I have the Start8 from Stardock to bring back the Start button and I have a Dell S2340T touchscreen display.

Also, my Gigabyte board has since had drivers released for Windows 8, meaning I can use it together with Windows 8.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

Firewire has suddenly become an obsolete connector in many areas of computing. When I build my previous computer in 2011(named the Zebra) it had a Firewire header and Firewire on the back (actually 2) and now when I'm building my new computer (due to a fault with the board) I've come across a huge problem when looking for boards that feature this connection.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to find the IEEE1394 standard anywhere now. Macs are starting to phase out a connector which they backed so hard and definitively for years until Thunderbolt came out. But Firewire still offers an excellent, CPU-free connector which is great for people who cannot afford a new hard drive with Thunderbolt (I wouldn't recommend USB because of it's topology and lack of daisy chaining).

To put Firewire into a PC is also getting more difficult as PCI is getting more and more obsolete by the day. Most Haswell boards do not feature PCI but feature PCIe x1 instead. Firewire cards in the form of x1 tend not to be hard to find, especially with an internal header.

I guess I better learn to embrace the future better...

Also, someone who agrees with my statement:

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

Nokia's new advert suggests that "every day, more photos are taken on the iPhone, than any other phone". Nokia's Lumia camera may be better, but does that mean more people will change to Nokia's phones? Well, clearly not as Windows Phone only has around 2-3% of the market share. I'm not criticizing Windows Phones themselves, but the operating system they run on.

For now, my point is that if Microsoft doesn't do something with Windows Phone 8 and indeed Windows 8, then they will see the market slip out of their hands to both Google and Apple as BlackBerry did.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

I'd like to mention my new software which is under development:

Hyper WEB

Hyper WEB (Hyper Wonderword-Extends-BlackRabbit) is a web editor. It is based on the same distinct feature set of the BlackRabbit Editor in that it uses a function machine editor where inputs are given and the editor produces the output based on those inputs. The editor uses the Internet Explorer's Trident engine with full support for Internet Explorer 10. Future plans are to bring WebKit to it. Pictures will be posted soon as progress begins to show. Currently the browser engine provided is based on Cobweb version 2.0, and it features the same page blocking technologies integrated into it. There are some very clever features being produced for it that will make creating sites easier.

BlackRabbit 2.0

Although I did announce this in the blog for BlackRabbit, version 2.0 is a total redesign on the scripting language. Integration in Cobweb will be much deeper, Hyper WEB will include ways to include sandboxed scripts into websites and Painter Pro and Wonderword will have better support. The current version of Elements will support version 2.0.


Recently, I stopped working on Cobweb because of a limitation of Windows preventing the use of the rendering engine of Internet Explorer 8 and above as part of any application apart from Internet Explorer itself. Due to a new feature brought to Cobweb, it is now possible to ensure that all versions of Trident can be used in Cobweb Internet Browser, and so version has this feature. I will soon put the latest version up on the web. As Cobweb is my currently only finished product, feedback would be much appreciated.


The future for Wonderword stopped back in October 2012 because it was taking the place of nothing more than a web editor, script editor and more other things. Due to the fact that Hyper WEB and BlackRabbit do both of these, I have decided to revamp Wonderword. There is now the possibility of a full WYSIWYG word processing package, but this will need some investment. It cannot happen without support.

Painter Pro

Current betas on Painter Pro have expired. To obtain another beta, please contact me. Painter Pro was the latest release and the next release will be, currently known as it's codename Aberdeen.


Work on VUEBB has also been slowed, but it will resume as soon as the next file extension library is complete.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

One of the most upsetting things that can happen with any technology is that it starts to die, or die prematurely. This is exactly what has happened with my Nexus 7.

Many others have complained as well. Here is a list of issues:

  1. When I rotate it from vertical to horizontal it takes about 7 seconds to flip.
  2. Music can't play in the background most of the time because it can't cope. It pauses the music and I have to resume it.
  3. Chrome takes about 15 seconds to create a tab, even if there are no other tabs
  4. Occasionally, going home makes the system crash and it takes me back to the login screen.
  5. Changing users takes about 10-15 seconds to change between two users on the login screen. I even decided to remove every other user on the tablet in the hope that it would make it faster.
  6. The battery life is subsequently wasted by all of this, and system restarts are frequently required. It also heats up considerably.
  7. Scrolling is never fluid - it just jumps.

This is a Nexus 7 32GB with 15GB of data. By the way, I have an iPad 16GB as well and have it almost full (11GB of data on it) and it still runs fine.

Here's the proof it happens to others.

Nexus 7

The 2012 Nexus 7 is a cheap tablet that seems to have problems

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

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:

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

Simply, I have upgraded my desktop to Windows 8 now. My post back in October 2012 is now absolutely out of date because I now actually want to use Windows 8.

I have been looking for the ideal monitor solution too and came up with the Dell S2340T monitor which I will be getting at the same time as my next PC which probably will come around about November this year (will not be a gaming built machine this time, as I will be keeping The Zebra to serve that purpose). It's funny I had a Dell monitor previously and loved it, traded it for a much better IPS Asus monitor, loved it too and here I am looking at another Dell monitor. That also means that the Asus PA238q will be for sale, so if you are interested in a 23" IPS LED backlit display which has absolutely remarkable picture quality and is only 2 years old, you can email me through my website to show your interest.

I am probably looking at a low-powered Mini ITX form factor based PC or, to most people who read this blog's shock, a Mac Mini when they get the 2013 model released. Whatever computer I get next as my primary computer, it will be running Windows 8 without a doubt. I am much the fan of the touch technology built into Windows and have been using it for about 4 years now (with my Fujitsu).

What I now love about Redmond's Windows 8 is still unclear to me, but things like the newly designed Windows Explorer, the new touch keyboard (which will work well with the Dell S2340T), the Start screen on touch, support for USB 3.0 and perhaps the fact that there is now an app store (but it probably should not be referred to as the 'app' store considering that is the first three letters of Apple, hence why they called applications 'apps').

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk

Uh oh! I cannot believe I am writing another of these "Why I will not be going..." posts on my blog and again this one points at another Microsoft product. This is the third product line that I have now ditched. Back in October 2012 I mentioned my dislike for Windows 8 after running the beta for months and experiencing the release candidate and then I mentioned my hatred for Windows Phone which I had been using for 18 dreadful months too long.

I was a Microsoft fan boy throughout later primary school and all throughout secondary school. Since about 2011, I have started to completely change that, now following companies like Google and Apple a lot more. Today, nothing has changed, well actually, it has. Microsoft has pushed me further away from themselves.

I am not going to start saying that I was going to purchase myself an Xbox One any time in the near future, but I had been planning on it when it had saturated it a bit. So today, I started to think to myself, is it really that bad? Well the answer is actually a lovely great big yes. Which now officially confirms that I have ditched Microsoft. Even after family members were Microsoft employed for a while, receiving invitations for events, mainly whilst I was in hospital (yea thanks for that Microsoft, you know when to fire out the events!) and all the rest, I hate how Microsoft are now. That company has ruined itself.

In my opinion all of it went downhill when we lost Bill Gates. Nobody can deny that his last release of operating system, Windows Vista, was a software bloat and in turn a huge mistake, but it cannot be said that it was down to his work that it failed. I'm sure that under Gates' management skills we could have seen a similar operating system to Windows 7, which remedied all of the problems created by Vista. But Gates also maintained a stronger position for the company as a whole. The Xbox 360 had some real games on it and had a decent user interface (I dislike the constantly new updated dashboards on the Xbox 360 because I feel that they get worse and worse), the PC still ran on a desktop operating system, not one designed for both tablets and sort of on desktops, and they had Windows Mobile, which ran on PDAs and SmartPhones but felt like a basic version of Windows, not Windows Phone.

Looking at Microsoft's current Windows 8 market share of 4.27% as of June 2013 and Windows Phone market share of 2.0% as of May 2013 people clearly do not care for Microsoft products the way they used to. I am within that group now.

The main point of this post was to describe the Xbox One and its pros and cons. Somehow the Xbox One has been another one of these disasters in my view. It seems like Microsoft wants rid of their company in my eyes.


Xbox One: £429

Wii U: £299 - £349

PS4: £349

Winner: Wii U, lowest price

Disc format

Xbox One: Blu-Ray disc

Wii U: Proprietary Wii U Optical Disc (based on Blu-Ray), Wii Optical Disc

PS4: Blu-Ray disc

Winner: Xbox One and PS4 as they can also play Blu-Ray and DVD films


Xbox One: Octa core (8 cores) AMD

Wii U: Tri-core PowerPC

PS4: Octa-core AMD with two quad core dies -

Winner: Xbox One, a single octa-core almost always performs better than a dual die system


Xbox One: AMD 768 shader modules at 800MHz

Wii U: AMD 320 shader modules at 550MHz

PS4: AMD 1152 shader modules at 800MHz

Winner: PS4, most shaders at the same clock frequency


Xbox One: 8GB DDR3 2133MHz RAM (5GB for games) giving a system bandwidth of (8 x 2.133) x 2 lines per clock x 2 modules = 68.256GB/s

Wii U: 2GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM (1GB for games) giving a system bandwidth of (2 x 1.6) x 2 lines per clock x 2 modules = 12.8GB/s

PS4: 8GB GDDR5 5500MHz RAM (7GB for games) giving a system bandwidth of (8 x 5.5) x 2 lines per clock x 2 modules = 176GB/s

Winner: PS4, highest RAM frequency due to GDDR5's higher bandwidth (GDDR5 also is better dealing with larger requests than DDR3 which copes better with small requests) and also has the most free memory for games and the highest memory bandwidth.


Xbox One: 500GB hard drive which is non-replaceable

Wii U: up to 32GB of non-replaceable flash storage

PS4: 500GB hard drive which is upgradeable

Winner: PS4, 500GB hard disk which can be upgraded against the Xbox

Output resolution

Xbox One: 4K

Wii U: 1080p or 2K

PS4: 4K

Winner: Xbox One and PS4, they both support 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 or 2160p) whereas the Wii U supports just 1080p

Input methods

Xbox One: Xbox One Wireless Controller, motion controls with Kinect, voice commands with Kinect, SmartGlass app for iOS and Android

Wii U: Wii U GamePad, Wii Remotes, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Classic Controller, Wii Nunchuk, Wii Balance Board

PS4: DualShock 4, motion controls with PlayStation Move, PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation app for iOS and Android

Winner: Wii U, there is no app for tablets, but it makes up for it by supporting 5 players on the one console with a variety of different inputs that mostly come from existing Wii hardware.

Constant online connection required

Xbox One: required to be connected to the internet every 24 hours on the primary console and every hour on a secondary console

Wii U: none

PS4: none

Winner: Wii U and PS4, you do not need a constant internet connection

Region locks

Xbox One: region locked

Wii U: region locked

PS4: no region lock

Winner: PS4, there is no region lock

Backward compatibility

Xbox One: none

Wii U: NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Commodore 64, MegaDrive, TurboGrafx, NeoGeo, Master System through Virtual Console and Wii Optical Disc support

PS4: an online service will permit the streaming of previous generation games

Winner: Wii U, the most varieties of games


Xbox One:

  • 2x HDMI (one in and one out)
  • 3x USB 3.0 ports
  • Wi-Fi
  • Kinect port
  • b/g/n wireless

Wii U:

  • HDMI port
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • SD memory card
  • Bluetooth
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • AV Multi Out (composite, VGA, component, SCART support)
  • Sensor bar port
  • a/b/g/n wireless


  • HDMI port
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Bluetooth
  • PS4 Camera port
  • b/g/n wireless

Winner: Xbox One or Wii U, the Wii U features an extra USB 2.0 port which means you can plug in more devices but at the cost of speed (480Mbps vs 5Gbps). No matter what, the PS4 is the loser here.


One more thing...

I have actually begun to get even more annoyed because I read that at E3 Microsoft did not even demonstrate the games they were showing on an Xbox One. In fact, they were shown on a PC. Read this.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk