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Personal Blog

After messing with some ideas, I finally decided to ditch my oversubscribed underused newsletter system on and replaced it with push notifications. These push notifications are achieved thanks to OneSignal's service.

Push notifications represent a much lighter way for me to develop a communication method, similar to Twitter and allow me to send much smaller and more frequent messages to my subscribers. On top of this, they allow me to get immediate results out there. They are a huge part of the open web and moving towards a more standards based approach. 

My plan is to deeply integrate these push notifications through OneSignal into BalfBlog in the near future. At the same time, I will also integrate them into my website.

As well as this, users of my website who can login will be the only people to receive email updates. These will mostly be related to software alphas, beta versions and new features to come to my website as well as my software.

Finally, the subscribe page (which was also the very first bit of PHP I ever wrote on my website) will also be disappearing. Well, not entirely. I'm going to keep it with details on how to subscribe, including a button that will help you to do so.

I hope this is satisfactory with everyone, but if you wish to be unsubscribed from my website, please email me now using the contact form on my website.

You can easily subscribe for push notifications through the button that says 'Subscribe' on it or by clicking on the button below:


Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

As part of the on going updates to BalfBlog my own site has to adapt very slightly to the new changes. Since my website is reliant on BalfBlog for the reviews, articles and indeed all the blogs and journals on my website, it is absolutely essential I carry out maintenance to keep up with it. The changes make no actual different to appearance of the website, but they do require that you refresh the page to see the website properly.

The new update to BalfBlog makes several changes to the way in which the CSS is represented. This update follows along side the new update that focuses on adding more white space in the form of padding to my website on desktop. 

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

I'm very happy to say that I have kept my word on website changes in that I haven't made major changes to the structure of my website in the last year. Minor usability tweaks have been made but nothing major, and a lot of the stuff that I have changed has remained quite consistent with the 'new' flat interface.

General tweaks to make the site more efficient with bandwidth and processing time have been made and as a result, I feel that my website is much better, even better than it was a year ago when I made the change to remove a few hundred lines of JavaScript and CSS and made my website much flatter.

If you feel the same way, please leave feedback, I'm really interested to know. Also, my website achieved 1000 people each week this month - by a long shot the best result to date. It has also moved up 11,852,082 places in the Alexa ranking system as a result of this surge in the last month alone. 

Alexa Ranking

I think a lot of the improvement on my website comes from the fact that I have not been focusing on these changes and ensuring that there is good content on my website, as my blog is now one of the most viewed parts of my website and my reviews are not far behind. 

A lot of the time changes are now directly to improve the DragonScript concept for a more efficient server side website. I have also been removing bits and bobs from the accessibility menu, since I no longer feel the need for this.

However, as a suggestion was made to me to do this, I will be updating my website with a new cover picture-esque thing like Facebook pages have. This will likely be a picture of Perthshire or somewhere in Scotland.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

I'm not really doing much on my website in terms of design but I am simplifying my website by removing things I no longer deem necessary. The first of those was the removal of Dark Mode (a feature of BalfBar and always will be, but not of my website any longer) since I was always in favour of the dark menu myself and will not be letting users choose the light menu any longer. I have also removed the invert colour feature of my website as of recently and will next be looking at removing the max page accessibility feature and the font size changing features. I will also look at removing other accessibility features and I'm not sure where it will end. 

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

In the last few days I've been focusing a lot of my time on software development rather than my usual web development. As a result ZPE has received more of my time than my website. This changed again today when I decided to work on it again.

Today I brought back the Facebook commenting system to my website, replacing my long lasted Disqus comment system. As a result of this, I am also including this in BalfBlog 2.1 instead of Disqus. The main benefit is now users no longer have to enter an individual post to comment on it (for the main blog mode, not introduction mode).

The DISQUS_SHORTNAME and the related settings are no longer required since Facebook does not need users to login. 

On my website side of things again, I have been focused on ensuring the OpenGraph content is up to date on my website. You should see that it is now pretty concise and works effectively every time and as a result sharing looks much better with Facebook.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

Helvetica returns! And on this occasion, I am not talking about you Calum Cormack. 

As I have been conducting feedback surveys on my website to select visitors for the last few days I have discovered that many do not like the Open Sans font since it is too light to read. I also felt like this from time to time and have considered the change to the slightly heavier Mac favourite font, Helvetica. 

Helvetica was once the default font on OS X (soon to be macOS) but Apple dropped it for the San Francisco font in both iOS 9 and OS X 10.11. I also once used Helvetica as my default font but dropped it for the sake of cross-platform support and have switched font on my website quite a lot since then. I am hoping that Helvetica will be staying, I will be running a trial run of this for four weeks from today. If I get more positive remarks about the font on the website I will retain it. 

As the result of the information from some feedback I received, Roboto has become the new site font - the third attempt at a font from Google Fonts.
Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

In the past, I have been told that my code samples are really good, but they lack one or two things. The most crucial one of those is the ability to copy the formatting. Unfortunately, this is not possible at the moment due to the fact they are written as a ordered list element. This means that each line of code is put in a new li element. When one comes to attempt to copy from the element, the formatting (e.g. the indentation, which is completely controlled by a CSS margin property) will not be retained. 

After some perseverance, I have begun the transformation of my samples. Currently in the ol element, they will now be nested within the pre element. What this also means is that it will be much easier for me to update them using my content management system. As of this second, the CSS tutorial has been partially updated, and my articles, reviews, blogs and the software section completely use this new system. 

The main theory behind doing this is to make my website more accessible and easier to use, whilst not making any real visual changes. At the current time, you may see that some of the older samples no longer appear properly. This is a known issue and will be fixed when they switch to the new style.

Please bare with me whilst I make this change, since it will take some time for me to fully implement across my tutorials. 

I have since updated my HTML and CSS tutorials with the new pre-based samples. It's taking a long time to do but I will be done with the PHP tutorial by the end of the day.
All pages on my website now use the new pre-based code samples so all code from these samples is now fully copyable. JavaScript must be enabled for the pre elements to display properly, but it will work without JavaScript anyway. 
Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

Today I am releasing the latest version of BalfBlog and using it on my website to power my articles!

The latest version of BalfBlog had the core focus of being able to manage a system like my articles system. Well now, after 3 years of development BlackCat is being replaced by a much younger (started in January 2016) content management system. 

BalfBlog is far from perfect for this and a lot of work is still needed. I say this because, at present you need a dashboard for each BalfBlog system. Also, whilst the project was only recently renamed BalfBlog, it was never to be the full time name. So please help me come up with a better name for BalfBlog that reflects this new feature.

The new system brings a lot of front end features too, such as being able to use the BalfBlog search which will search for words you enter only in that blog/section. You can do this using the search box at the top of the section, this allows you to search based on the category, keyword, title, tags or anything else you may want to search for. This gives a lot more specificity over what you are searching for compared with Google's search provided on my website.

On top of this, updates are easier to apply to these sections of my website than before and I can manage content using a more useful content management system.

So all in all, it's been a great move.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

Today I have decided I will no longer add support for Internet Explorer 8, 7, 6 and below to BalfBlog, BalfBar, BalfSlider, BalfRibbon and my own website.

Subsequently, users of these will see a very small reduction in file size. 

After many years of adding extra support to my website for older browsers, I have decided it is time to move on. I am officially ditching a percentage of users of these older browsers.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news

Hello everyone, I'm posting this comment about my Disqus comment system which I have recently had to update. Since Disqus currently does not offer the ability to move comments from an old URL to a new one, I had to delete older comments to prevent them going through to the error page. I have readded all these comments using the names of the original people (note the names, not their user accounts, thus these will not take you to their accounts). I have done this since some of these comments were useful and because there are still very few comments (despite hundreds of views a month). 

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news