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

ZPE has for a long time been able to compile and password protect compiled applications. Now with ZPE comes SecureCode (codenamed Diamond Peak). SecureCode is a built-in part of the ZPE package that secures code using a special algorithm. Code can be decrypted by the engine and then run directly from it. Secure code has been in development for months, only to finally come to fruition now.

This new form of security adds layers of protection to applications that make ZPE even more secure. The built-in decryption engine will be included within the up and coming YASS Executable specification.

In a nutshell, the encryption and decryption algorithms use the password as the initialisation vector but since the password is not stored as plain text and can only be verified by encrypting a users input and comparing it against the encrypted password, there is no way to decrypt the code. Further, the compiler applies the encryption algorithm a number of times to strengthen the security of the file.

YASS
function main(){

 print("Hello world")

}

When compiled, the file would like:

Binary file
^@^Esr^@,jamiebalfour.zpe.core.YASSCompiledExecutable}N^P;<8A>^B^@^GZ^@^LexperimentalJ^@^DtimeL^@^Fauthort^@^RLjava/lang/String;L^@^Pcompiler_versionq^@~^@^AL^@^Dnameq^@~^@^AL^@^Hpasscodeq^@~^@^AL^@^Gprogramt^@^RLjava/lang/Object;xp^@^@^@^@^M^Xbt^@^Njamiebalfour04t^@^G1.8.8.0t^@^@t^@^@sr^@)jamiebalfour.zpe.core.YASSCompiledProgramP^E<9E> ^S<8F>^B^@^C[
^@ functionst^@^][Ljamiebalfour/types/ZPEPair;[^@
structuresq^@~^@ [^@ variablesq^@~^@ xpur^@^][Ljamiebalfour.types.ZPEPair;<82>}%LS^B^@^@xp^@^@^@^Asr^@^Zjamiebalfour.types.ZPEPairu`cӜ^B^@^BL^@^Anq^@~^@^BL^@^Avq^@~^@^Bxpt^@^Dmainsr^@^Zjamiebalfour.zpe.core.FAST^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^A^B^@ B^@^Kreturn_typeB^@^EscopeB^@^DtypeL^@^Mdocumentationq^@~^@^BL^@^Bidq^@~^@^AL^@^Dleftt^@^Ljamiebalfour/zpe/core/FAST;L^@^Fmiddleq^@~^@^QL^@^Dnextq^@~^@^QL^@^Evalueq^@~^@^Bxp^@^@pq^@~^@^Oppsq^@~^@^P^@^@pq^@~^@^Osq^@~^@^P^@^@^Cpt^@^Eprintpppsq^@~^@^P^@^@pq^@~^@^Gpppsq^@~^@^P^@^@^Hpq^@~^@^Gpppt^@^KHello worldppsq^@~^@^P^@^@pq^@~^@^Gpppppuq^@~^@^K^@^@^@^@uq^@~^@
^K^@^@^@^@

But when using SecureCode it looks like:

Binary file
^@^Esr^@,jamiebalfour.zpe.core.YASSCompiledExecutable}N^P;<8A>^B^@^GZ^@^LexperimentalJ^@^DtimeL^@^Fauthort^@^RLjava/lang/String;L^@^Pcompiler_versionq^@~^@^AL^@^Dnameq^@~^@^AL^@^Hpasscodeq^@~^@^AL^@^Gprogramt^@^RLjava/lang/Object;xp^@^@^@^Oryt^@^Njamiebalfour04t^@^G1.8.8.0t^@^@t^@<$2a$10$gKm.f.P6is/VObd9ZtnBreOj5Lu6fIhJ4P7snMp/VJzgdEL4aHUpiur^@^B[B^W^F^HT^B^@^@xp^@^@^Bp<99>^D(<84>E^G^?^?.MTy<8C>1c^LESCD<89>L"$= BB^Y<8C>^K#^T^F^N<85> gs<9E>=F   ESC-/^NԶ7^C|'^]<9F>^EҏwAQc3F<9B>K
<84>^F<91>|'S<9F>^X+^^MY^O^Bډ^GAͿ_^D<9A>&^E<91>U*<98>o"s^Tƭӏܙ-Jt^Y.^V<90>R^E^ZiZY^N<9D>s<8B>Ʋ^U^TRi^?Vi<96>=c^NnɄiz^Xe-dr^$)<9A>*^X <0^V<87>N^?^DfT,n<95>k1-<90>*^L^VESC^_<8E>6^P<9D>u<Ls
^O^Lio^NM<9D>^B <83><9B><83> '<88>^V^W^Q8ESC}m5q<91>Wp~
<98>Q<9B>~<81><8A>Uo%,^V+g}<81><96>+<89>^V<95>^T,4+@qVESC]
^_<8C>˼<90>ђo<U+0083>e
{<91>v<93>w虁^Fn6E^BN ȱW^G^V^@3<8C>q^YMQH<80>.
3Ż<8B>Gc3􃍜B<9A>^MSOO^?P<9A>^R^@<87>^_<83>7q^RIF"<80>g@3zEhp^ m*<80>#,ESCzܘ
͓v<97><8C><82><9B>j^]N<91>b|j+E^N<9C>ʥRA8RTֺ<94>I[C^]<92>-
%<81>^P^H<90>mt K_*a<87><9D><91>Y^Z#PD^]:^L<96><84>'%Yao^SӷQ^U
<84>B]^]ż<8A>c^H8^E^AlNwn9C<81>bnm2<93>=?
Gg

Security and safety have always been paramount within ZPE since the release of version 1.5 with last year's version 1.7.x making the server and client system even more secure using a special public and private key encryption method. ZPE 1.8.x aims to bring further security features to the package in due time. SecureCode is expected later this month.

ZPE SecureCode

It was my birthday today and I turn 29 at 10.30 today. I have some big news that I'm keeping quiet for a little longer and then I will unveil it all. Stay tuned if you want to find out more.

Posted by J B Balfour in Life

Today I am happy to announce the release of ZPE 1.8.7 known by its codename as Portman.

Portman brings many minor updates plus better support for my new Velocity Web Server. One of the most significant changes to ZPE is the removal of the ZPE prefix in front of internal object definitions. For example, the ZPEHTMLBuilder is now just the HTMLBuilder and the ZPEUI becomes UIBuilder. Speaking of objects, there is now a new Calculator object which uses a compiler to compile expressions into fast-to-execute mathematical formulae. 

Further to that, ZPE 1.8.7 introduces ZPEKit (pronounced zippy kit), a new API for accessing the compiler, interpreter and runtime from a single interface. The introduction of this so far only accesses the compiler, but within the next few versions, ZPEKit will become the only way to access the compiler, interpreter and runtime. 

ZPE 1.8.6 deprecated the ZPEWebServer and I expect ZPE 1.8.9 (James) will remove the ZPEWebServer entirely.

zpe 1.8.7
ZPEKit

I'm happy to announce that ZPE 1.8.7 will introduce ZPEKit. ZPEKit is a complete redesign of the infrastructure of the ZPE application and will make it even easier than before to access the functions that you might need as a developer. 

The plugin interface will also be more accessible and I plan to bring more native function capabilities to the front end of the application. 

Further to this, I am now developing an image editing program in Java that will use ZPE as the core of the application, so this move is really important to make it easier for me to develop this application.

zpe 1.8.7
ZPEKit

ZPE version 1.8.6 (Younis) is a big update. 

One of the biggest changes to it is the deprecation of the built-in web server. This has been deprecated in favour of a much more streamlined way of working.

The reason for this. Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that it contradicts the Velocity Web Server (VWS) that I'm building. The ZPE web server was always slow compared with my new VWS which is designed to be compatible with a variety of languages and environments. VWS works with ZPE through what's called a Velocity Module hook now anyway. 

For now the server remains in place but in the next few weeks I plan to remove it altogether and perhaps reimplement it using the basis of VWS.

zpe 1.8.6
zpe

I was reading through parts of my blog looking for one specific post and came across one of my favourite posts on my website. I'm referring to this one here. This post discussed a form of code optimisation that can be carried out before compilation in some languages including ZPE/YASS.

Specifically, this post discussed performance differences between using variables where a length value (in this case the number of items in a list) is stored in a variable versus inline function calls to check the size of that list each iteration of the loop. It is understandable that the former would have lower latency and indeed lower memory consumption. 

After reading the post again, I thought I'd try it with the newest version of ZPE. At first, my thoughts were it was going to be slower because of the compilation time being increased to allow for compiler optimisation that the new ZPE offers. I was wrong. 

ZPE 1.8.5 is considerably faster on both for loops provided in the example, performing only slightly better in the user optimised version. 

Results for the first for loop in ZPE 1.8.5 were:

real 0m0.454s
user 0m1.016s
sys 0m0.118s

Compared with 2016's 1.4.2E, which got:

real 0m2.071s
user 0m2.914s
sys 0m0.455s

zpe
compiler
optimisations

It's taken a while for me to finally get here, but ZPE is finally adding further optimisations for mathematical and logical operations. 

For logic, one optimisation that has been highlighted as a potential area for improvement is the use of nested if statements and optimising them with else ifs instead.

For mathematics, it will include an optimisation that compiles static operations such as 1 + 5, but it will also look to improve the performance through the use of variables within mathematics. 

Since ZPE has begun to include optimisations since ZPE 1.7.8, it has been a major focus and major shift to improve the performance of compiled scripts. I am also looking to improve the performance of web-based scripts and adding in the ability to compile them too.

LAME2 is also under development, designed to improve performance of LAME which itself improved performance over LAMP this time last year. LAME2 will also embed its own optimisations. 

Also, I thought I'd take this opportunity to inform you of my recent use cases for ZPE since it now responds to webhooks much more efficiently. My most recent ZPE project has been on the home Raspberry Pi, which is set up to respond to web requests and manage them accordingly. We are now using ZPE within our smart home setup and I'm very happy to show people how it works. If you are interested, please contact me via email.

zpe
compiler
optimisations

Hello folks, I hope everyone is okay and not as fed up as I am with everything going on in the world at present!

Today I was thinking about something that I use every day - switchable graphics. See in my MacBook Pro I have an Nvidia 750GT - a decent dedicated graphics card that can run some games well but has never been used for gaming. In fact, my dedicated card only gets used for graphic and video editing on my MacBook and therefore remains cool and quiet using the Intel Iris Pro graphics. The fact that my computer automatically switches without me even noticing (other than the notification I have setup) is quite truly amazing.

So, what about switchable memory? Have a low power implementation such as LPDDR3 and then high-performance DDR4 as the fast memory. It wouldn't be a particularly good idea in smaller laptops but in a laptop such as 15" machine such as my MacBook Pro it might be an excellent idea. Something like this could help a device such as the Nintendo Switch, a lower power RAM for on the move then a powerful implementation that would be activated when it is docked.

Of course, there are issues with this concept of switchable memory. The main one that comes to mind is how do you keep them in sync? If one memory is to be turned off, you need a fast bus or lane to transfer the data from one memory module or type to the other. This could also end up using a lot of power. 

This is a just a thought...

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
ram

Visual Basic was the first language that I learned all the way back in my early teens. I built some amazing things with it including my own Photoshop program and a web browser with many big features. But now Microsoft has declared the end for it. 

Read more below:

https://www.thurrott.com/dev/232268/microsoft-plots-the-end-of-visual-basic

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
microsoft
visual basic

Many of you will know I was a bit of a geeky kid who enjoyed lots of things that involved computers. One of my passions, when I was younger, was writing books about technology and computers.

I wrote my non-fiction first book in my first year of school and it came to 180 pages. It was based on what I would be studying a few years later, Standard Grade Computing.

In my fourth year of school I began to write my second book (technically the third since my second did not amount into anything), and this book was used for the training department in what I was trying to make into my own company (Balfour's Business). The company never became anything and I ditched it for Jambour Digital in 2017. The book was 382 pages long!

I've now started a new book called Complete Computing. This time Complete Computing will be made publicly available. This book is covering S3/Level 3/4 Computing and covers several different topics. CC is based around the S3 course at the school I teach at mixed with the course at another school which one of the co-authors works at. 

Oh yes, and I didn't mention that this time to assist with the writing of the book I have encouraged someone else to co-author the book with me. 

The ultimate aim of this book is to provide a resource for Level 3/4 Computing covering a wide range of topics that can be used. Whether I intend to publish it or not is still undecided. 

Posted by J B Balfour in Education
complete computing