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Personal Blog

Celebrations may have already started in New Zealand for 2021 but we've still got 2020 for 12 more hours so let's look back. 2020 has no doubt been one of the toughest years for most of the people on the planet. For me personally, it started with my uncle Mel passing away in March. This was an absolute shock to us all and he is missed by us all very much.

Then COVID came along and brought a whole new meaning to change. The whole lockdown back in March until May meant a huge number of changes for us all.

But of course, there were positives in my life. 

For a start, I became a fully qualified teacher in July and got a job at a school I absolutely love working at, and it's a school I wasn't sure about until the day of the interview when I learned so much about the place and why it's the best school I've worked at. 

Further to that, I put down a reservation on a house (again, third time lucky). This time it is definitely going through. And it also was a stroke of luck that I get 5% off the house price for being a keyworker (a teacher). On top of that, I got the First Home Fund just in time (my house is complete literally 2 weeks before the fund gets cut) and I got a much larger, three-bedroom house.

Further to this, I have been able to save both my deposit and get myself a new iPad Pro, MacBook Pro and iPhone 12. I am definitely enjoying having a decent amount of money.

The company also grew considerably this year, obtaining three new big clients. We also had two applicants for a job post that we put out (neither were suitable) and we aim to do the same with this next year. 

To top of the year, I passed my theory driving test again (it lapsed so I needed to redo it).

It's a scary thought, but 2021 is the year I turn 30! 2020 wasn't all bad for me personally, but I still live in hope that 2021 is a better year. 

Posted by J B Balfour in Life

2020 has been a strange and different year and for many of us, Christmas will be different this year compared with normal. Keep safe and have a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Posted by J B Balfour in Life
christmas

This is a very interesting read on why Apple's M1 chip is so powerful.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
apple
macbook pro
apple m1

Today is a major leap in the history of Apple Silicon! Microsoft Office apps are now fully optimised for the Apple M1 based Macs!

Microsoft has done it!

Running them is a breeze and they start instantly - even shorter a wait than I had before. This native support will not only improve performance but also improve battery life whilst they are being used.

This is a monumental step forward for Apple Silicon.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
apple
macbook pro
apple m1

Visual Voicemail is now available on the Vodafone phone network on iPhones. Yesterday when I was about to press the Phone Voicemail button I have grown used to I realised I had something different. This is the first time I have had Visual Voicemail since my original iPhone back in 2009 with the O2 network.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
visual
voicemail
vodafone
iphone

After a long time of a very square/rectangular look to my website, I have brought back subtle curves here and there across the website. These curves are designed to make things like buttons more obvious as well as add to separation. There has been a lot of exploration around what suits it and what doesn't but I think the changes I have made are very clean and follow design techniques of today.

For example, input boxes and windows now have curves. You may have also noticed that I have introduced a new quick alert to the site as well as the newest version of BalfPick.

I'm aiming to make my design a combination of curved buttons and elements built on a flat design and think I've done it well so far.

Posted by J B Balfour in Website news
website
update

I have finally redesigned BalfPick from the ground up for the second iteration. This version is completely different and relies on much less JavaScript and does more using CSS. It's much higher performance, better on mobile devices with touch and much lighter in weight too. 

Part of the new design focuses on streamlining the manner in which it is used and instead of providing a custom dropdown list it simply uses the original dropdown list built-in to the browser or operating system.

Below is how these new dropdowns look on my website in dark mode.

As someone who loves computer hardware, I found this article a very interesting reminder of the benefits of RISC over CISC and the benefits of CISC over RISC architectures.

https://medium.com/swlh/what-does-risc-and-cisc-mean-in-2020-7b4d42c9a9de

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
risc
cisc
processors

It is at long last that Apple has announced its own silicon will be used in the next range of Macs. The Apple M1 was announced today as Apple's first in the line of successor CPUs to the Intel range they've used since 2006 (I still remember the day back then and I wrote a little article in Microsoft Word so I could remember the day).

As a result, I of course had to be one of the first owners of these new machines so I ordered it straight away. This new MacBook I've ordered comes in the form of a MacBook Pro (though I was very tempted by the Mini as well) to replace my 2013 MacBook Pro 15". I wanted a 13" again this time since I wanted the portability again.

I am really looking forward to reviewing this machine and hope that it is everything I had hoped for! 

apple
macbook pro
apple m1

He was the first James Bond and an amazing actor. Sean Connery set the standard for what James Bond was and is. As Bond, he was tough, brutal and everything Bond should be and yet a hit with the ladies. 

File:SeanConneryJune08.jpg

Much like Roger Moore who passed away a few years back, Connery had his own style that brought something amazing to Bond. I cannot actually believe he's no longer with us. I will certainly miss him.