Tuesday, 18 December 2007

M263 TMA01

Results are in! A respectable 90%, silly mistakes as ever to lose the marks, will I ever learn?! One thing I have learnt is to go by your instincts, if you believe the logic in your answer is right go with it! (Unfortunately due to not trusting myself I have amended answers only to lose marks).

The second bit of good news is I have a completion date of Friday for my new house which is quick so I'm going to have a busy christmas break.

I have also tried the 'Blog readability test' which was brought to my attention by Simon Knights and Ian Macey which rated the education level required to read my blog as High School.... so your all safe ;-) ..... for now.

Merry Christmas


Saturday, 15 December 2007

MU120 TMA01 Results

I have finally got my TMA01 Results for MU120 with a score of 97%. I am really pleased with this score and hopefully I can keep it up. Just need to find out the results for CMA42 now which was submitted last week and went quite well.

Incase I dont get the M263 TMA01 results before the christmas break may I take this opportunity to wish you all a merry christmas. Put your feet up and make sure you enjoy your break from studying!


Sunday, 2 December 2007

M263 TMA01 Pt2, MU120 TMA01 Pt2


It has been a fair old while since I have had an opportunity to update the blog. I have recently made an offer on my first house and have been spending all my time (and salary) in places like ikea and B&Q.

I finally finished this last thursday and got it submitted, it was quite a step up from TMA01 Pt1 which filled about a page of A4! I did enjoy it though and although it was more time consuming than I had expected the questions were workable and interesting/engaging so it wasn't all that painful. I just need to wait for the results now, fingers crossed it goes well.

A few weeks ago I submitted TMA01 Pt2 for MU120 by post (you have no choice unfortunately) but i still haven't had any reply/grade yet. I think i need to get onto my tutor to see if she definitely received it, I would like to think I would have been told if they thought that I had blown my deadline.... but equally I could pick up the phone and check that it got there. In future I think I will make sure I send these things recorded delivery so I have peace of mind.

Christmas is fast approaching (where does the time go??) and and I have one more CMA to submit before the christmas break, which I can use to work on the next TMA's. Hopefully before then I will be able to post my results for TMA01.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

M263 and MU120 TMA 01 Pt 1 Results

I had both of these back this week and scored 95% on both. I am fairly happy with the results but the mistakes I did make were silly mistakes.

On Mu120 I made mistakes when listing a Calculator input procedure not including the enter key where it should have been, which was an easy mark given away.

In M263 there was a question surrounding the Character 'g' and the string "G". The course text does state that strings and characters are completely different however there was a piece in the text that said a single character string is identical to an individual character (I'm not at home at the moment so don't have the resources to hand). This lead to confusion and the loss of a mark but thats my fault for not just sticking with the overall idea the course text was presenting.

All in all though not a bad start and if i can keep up the grades I will be happy come May/June Time.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

FirstClass for Mac Users!

Hi all

Just thought I'd post something that I tried out just now and worked perfectly. Firstclass for MAC!

Whilst booting into my windows XP partition on bootcamp today to log into first class I noticed on the splash screen the address for the firstclass website. Now I always thought that firstclass was an internal product of the Open University, but apparently not!

If you go to this site "First Class Downloads" you can view the first class international clients. If you then go down to English UK you can see the windows and MacOSX versions. Click MacOSX you will be taken to a page to download the MACOSX universal binary of FirstClass version 9. Download it and install it.

Once installation is complete you can launch the application and you will see this screen.

You need to click Setup in the bottom right hand corner and you will be presented with this screen.

Fill in your OU server, which you will find on your windows version of Firstclass I believe it is either oufcnt1.open.ac.uk or oufcnt2.open.ac.uk so try either and see how you get on. At the top fill in your student number and password as you would normally to log into first class or the open university website then click save.

You will be back at the main screen. Click the green arrow next to the password field or hit enter on the keyboard. And Voila!! You have firstclass on your mac. See my desktop below.

Monday, 22 October 2007

MU120 and M263 TMA01 PT1

I have been hard at work on my MU120 TMA01 PT1 which I have completed today, I must admit this was more of a pain than I thought it would be! All was running well until I hit question 2 part D, where I got stuck on something which happened to be straightforward but took me a fair amount of time to solve. I can't discuss the question at the moment as the TMA deadline has not passed but section 1.7 in the calculator book should give people a good grounding in tackling the question.

Now the TMA is complete I have two gripes. The first is that I cannot submit it electronically, which isn't a massive issue but it is an annoyance as up until now I have submitted all my TMA's in this way. The OU put it down to Maths being much easier to work with on paper than on the PC, which after spending a good 5 minutes trying to find out how to use superscript for the squared symbol in Microsoft word I realised is probably true. My second gripe is that you cannot search the PDF texts for this course. I know a lot of students like to work from textbooks but I personally enjoy the freedom of PDFs and the ease of reference come TMA time. Unfortunately as I learned today the old nose in the book and search method has to be used now and again, this is because the MU120 texts are written using a special piece of software to deal with all the mathematical characters which when converted to PDF, is unsearchable (Arrgghh!).

My M263 TMA was handed in earlier last week and I found it fairly straight forward however some of the information in Unit 1 threw me a bit as they were using operators without fully explaining them. The text does stress that it will expand as the course continues and I hope it does, seems a lot of effort learning a new language for a year, you'd think they would continue using javascript which is used in other OU courses including the M150 course which so many people start there computing degrees with.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

MU120 Tutorial 1 and M263

I've just been to my first tutorial of this academic year. We went through the MU120 course materials and workloads/assignments and what is expected of us as students. Seems the same as previous years however my tutor did stress that MU120 is fairly time consuming for a 30 point course and don't judge your time based on previous study. Point noted!

The first part of TMA01 is due on the 22nd of October and as with all TMA's in MU120 needs to be submitted by snail mail. The Dark Ages! (Que medieval music).

This seems to be a bit of a pain as it will reduce the amount of time I have to write the TMA and check it before posting it, as in my past experiences I have been able to check a TMA a few times before submitting it via the eTMA system without to much worry of blowing a deadline. I guess I just have to plan it better.

The materials seem to be fine at the moment, and I'm keeping on track as far as studying goes.

On a different note I don't have a tutorial for M263 until November, and if I recall correctly its down in Exeter which is going to be a bit of a nightmare. I'm enjoying reading the materials for this course so far however it does seem to jump straight in at a fast pace and using technical terminology. It is a level 2 course though, I just hope we'll all be able to keep up!

Monday, 1 October 2007

NUS Extra card arrival!

This is a follow up post to an entry I wrote last week surrounding the new NUS Extra card now available to all Open University Students. After a short time from application (Around 6 days) I received my NUS Extra Card on Saturday 29th September in the post as can be seen in the two photos attached.

As can be seen in this photo, the back of the card clearly shows the Open University Student Associations Logo on the back just under the signature strip.

After activating the card online which was a quick process I have already put it to use on Amazon to get an extra 5% off! At this rate I will recoup the cost of the card in no time at all. Roll on the discounts!

For note, whilst waiting for the card I received an e-mail saying as a security measure my card would be sent to my students union and I would be e-mailed when it was ready for collection. This is obviously a measure put in place to prevent abuse in traditional universities, however I am pleased to say that despite receiving this e-mail.... the card still arrived on my doorstep without any need to go to the OU for collection.

I hope the rest of you make the most of this great opportunity, whether it is for discounted meals, clothes or nights out reward your hard work and study with an NUS Extra Card. I know I will!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A New Design and OU Financial Support

If your reading this blog entry hopefully you will have noticed that the website has changed. I have added a new design layout and although there have been a few teething issues I am fairly happy with the results. I hope everyone likes it, its a lot simpler and easier on the eye than the previous design but still engaging enough to keep you coming back.

I was asked by a colleague recently what type of financial support the OU offer students and as I advised them I thought that it would be useful information to add to this blog.

This is the Second year that the Open University have assisted me financially with my studies and they have been of great benefit! The OU provide a wide range of grants and financial support to a huge amount of students and if you are considering studying anything from as much as a whole degree to as little as one course but you are not sure if you can afford it they provide ready reckoner's online which will give you an idea as to what support is available.

It is also worth noting that as well as financial support, the Open University have the Open University Student Budget Account or OUSBA which provide ways of spreading the cost of your studies by paying course fees over the year at a low rate of interest.

For more info please see the OUSBA website

If you earn under £30K and live in the England and Northern Ireland you should be entitled to financial support. The OU rate this out so if you earn under say £15k you should be eligible for a full course grant, between £16K - £26k you should be eligible for a partial course grant, these figures are approximate and change yearly. The amount of grant you will receive depends on how many credits you study and other contributing factors. Please see the OU Financial Support Site for full details.

The general Financial Support Site for the OU can be found below:

Financial Support Site for Open University UK

As can be seen on the financial support site, depending on where you live (England & Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland etc) there are different support structures in place. The amount of Support you may be eligible for depends on your country of residence. Ready Reckoner's for each country can be found below:

England and Northern Ireland Financial Support Calculator
Wales Financial Support Calculator
Scotland Financial Support Calculator

As well as support for fees, the OU provide other support such as Computer Grants to use towards the purchase of a PC or Laptop for Study, Grants for Internet Fees when used for Study etc. However, it is worth nothing that these grants tend to be offered on a first come first served basis. Judging by the leaflets and letters I get each year a lot of the funds available for these grants are not used up.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Excuse the corny title to this blog post, however I have just been reading the OUSA Sesame mailing that seems to come around every so often and to my amazement the OUSA have managed to secure a great deal for OU students. Effective immediately OU students can register for the NUS Extra Card for £10!

This card gives you masses of benefits and also includes the ISIC card which retails at £9 on its own and up util now was the only worthwhile benefits card available to OU students. Those of you who read the blog will know what the ISIC card consists of, for more information or to register for an NUS Extra Card you need to check www.nusextra.co.uk The registration can be done online (i have just completed it!) all you require is a photo to be either uploaded or taken via your webcam in real time and your PI (Personal Identifier) number, this is the number the OU knows you by and can be found on most pieces of correspondence you receive or in the OU student home online.

Check the website for more info on the discounts available, the card is valid until september 2008 so the earlier you sign up the longer the benefits last.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Postponed M255 until Febraury

after working my way through the MU120 mathematics preperatory materials and hearing that M263 is predominantly maths based course I have chosen to postpone M255 until Febraury. To be honest I know maths isn't necessarily my strongest point and to give myself the fairest chance of passing my courses to a good standard (M263 counts towards degree classification) I want to be able to dedicate all my time to M263 and MU120.

It was a bit of a relief to get it sorted, as the last 3 weeks I have spent alot of time worrying about my workload and the thought of my first two courses which contain final exams running directly in parallel. I hope I have made the right decision... time will tell though.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

M150 Preperatory Material and the TI-83 Calculator and the New iMac

Here we go!

So I am now back from 5 weeks backpacking my way around Europe which was great fun and extremely interesting. I was looking forward to getting stuck into another year of OU study and found the M150 preperatory units pack on my doorstep upon my return.

I have been working my way through these materials and in particular the diagnostic quiz. This is a quiz that the OU ask you to work through to find any areas in your basic mathematical knowledge that may need refreshing before the course commences. I have found the quiz fairly easy going and any questions I have found challenging have been easily understood after reading through the examples and answers provided in the answer booklet. The introductory pack is fairly chunky and I would definitely suggest students tackle it sooner rather than later as it is a good way to brush up on your maths skills.

Also whilst reading the introductory materials you are advised to buy the TI-83 calculator for the course. It retails at around £88 however the OU have negotiated deals with a company to provide it at a discount which can be paid all in one or over 10 monthly installments. As I don't have £88 on me (Just purchased the new iMac) I set about looking for a pc emulated version of the calculator. I found two pieces of software, VTI and Tilem which both do excellent jobs of replicating the calculator with full clickable skin on my PC. This will be useful as it delays the inevitable purchase of the calculator until I can afford it but I imagine that it will also allow me to easily take screen shots of the calculator to place into my TMA's over the year. There is a good website called www.ticalc.org which provides information on alll things TI related and is definitely worth a look.

Moving on, as I have already said I have just purchased the new iMac, although I do plan to install windows xp on it via bootcamp and parallels desktop, I am interested to see the sort of support that the OU may provide to Mac users. I appreciate that the inhouse software such as firstclass may be windows bound for time to come but things like course materials will hopefully be available to both Mac's and PC's.

I am still waiting for the study materials for my other courses and will update as they arrive.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Registered for 90 credits and off around europe....

I thought I would drop by as I haven't wrote an entry since my courses finished for the summer.

The good news is I received my end of course assessment back for M150 and scored 89% which I'm very pleased with. This hopefully will secure a pass for the course however I still have to await the return of the final CMA.

I have also received my registration agreements through for M263 (£355), MU120(£315) and M255(£355). After applying for financial support I managed to secure a partial grant which will cover all of MU120's costs and some of M263's. I approached my employer today regarding the remaining balance for my courses and they were more than happy to pay, which leaves me in a very fortunate position of not having to pay any fees this year.

I'm off around Europe in a few days time and will be spending 5 weeks on the continent which I am really looking forward too. It will be good to recharge the batteries before returning in August ready for a September start and another year with the OU.

I have been keeping up to date with other OU students blogs and I have been pleased to receive comments on both the ISIC card and and my blog in general so thank you to all those who have stopped by!

I hope you all have a great summer and a well deserved rest (and that the weather takes a turn for the better too!)

Bye for now.

Monday, 28 May 2007

The end of Year 1......

Well what can I say?

I have submitted my ECA's for both M150 and T175 and found both of them fairly straightforward.

I was panicking over the M150 ECA as I thought I had to answer two questions both worth 100 marks. Coming from a programming background I got straight on with the first question which was programming based as I knew I could get to the bottom of it with a few hours hard work.

To my surprise when I actually read the introduction to the second question it said you do not need to answer this question if you have answered question 1! Phew and Doh both came to mind!! I went back to re-read the assignment details and noticed that whilst skim reading I had completely ignored the section about attempting only one question. So even in my last piece of work for the first year of my degree I am still learning things about myself!

I have found my first year fairly straight forward in both time management and learning, working through the course materials steadily and only really finding myself contributing large volumes of my time during assignment periods. It has been frustrating when deadlines have struck close together but I don't think I have put in the 16 hours a week that the OU recommended for two 30 point courses. I have put this down to being familiar with some of the material and more difficult ideas in the course, and I am by no means expecting this trend to continue into next year.

The most useful thing I have had from the OU is the study calendar for the course, it is good to be able to keep pace of where you are and where you should be with your studies and without it I would have certainly found managing my time a lot more difficult, so a big thumbs up goes to the OU for those and I hope they appear in future courses.

I have been deliberating whether or not to post examples of code I have submitted during my assignments with explanations of how I tackled a problem in a particular way. I am not sure how the OU would view this but I assume they won't send out the same questions to future students and it will only be of benefit to others both web users and OU students alike to get a view on how people tackle different problems in different ways.

I was thinking people may be able to respond with there examples through the comments boxes, maybe it will just be better to set up a forum? I don't know just yet although I am looking for a web based project to develop my C# and ASP.Net skills, I find learning these things so much easier when you have a problem to tackle!

O.K so the ramblings are over, I probably won't be posting on the blog as often until the start of the new academic year in September (for me anyway). Obviously if i find any useful or appropriate information I will be writing about it.

Until then have a nice summer and for those of you still studying, good luck with all your doing.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

End of Course Assessment (ECA) and Results so far!

My assignments have finally been marked and returned, and as promised I am here to post the results so far prior to the ECA's being submitted in 2 weeks.


TMA 01 = 83%
TMA 02 = 82%
TMA 03 = 90%
TMA04 = 94%

The main reason for the lower marks at the start of the course was down to getting familiar with assignments. Although TMA02 would have been higher however I missed a part of question 2 out which was worth 12 marks. I actually answered the question! Its the way that I construct my TMA's that was the problem. I work on a question at a time in a word document, and use that document to clean up everything and modify it before copying and pasting it into a new document for submission. Unfortunately I missed a section out, which was frustrating to say the least, however I quickly learned my lesson! (This also gave me a good example of feedback for the ECA).


TMA 01 = 98%
TMA 02 = 98%
TMA 03 = 95%
TMA04 = 89%

The marks for this course have been fairly consistent, I lost some easy marks in TMA04 by not using certain keywords in a question which my tutor marked against. In level one courses like these tutors mark to a fairly rigid guideline, they are often given examples of where marks should be allocated. I'm sure this will be true for level 2 and 3 courses going forward as they expect you to demonstrate the knowledge you have learned. One example is that when I was explaining why voice recognition systems may have difficulties interpreting the word minute for example as it can be pronounced differently when referring to time or referring to size, the keyword that my tutor was looking for was the fact that it was a "Homograph". Even though I explained the problem I failed to include this keyword in my answer, which resulted in me throwing away an easy mark!

Anyway I have thoroughly enjoyed both of these courses and would recommend them to anyone.

After I have submitted my ECA's and hopefully passed the courses I am eligible to claim my Certificate in Computing and Information. The good thing about the OU is you gain different level of qualifications as you work towards your Degree. For example once I have studied more Level two courses I will be eligible for a Diploma, then with further study a degree. So you are constantly having something to show for your efforts!!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

International Student Identity Card (ISIC Card) for OU students

I ordered an international student identity card on tuesday from STA Travel which cost £7.00 for my trip around europe. It is the most recognised form of student ID around the world and will get you discounts and free entry to lots of places.

I applied online on the off chance that it might come through, the Open University isn't regarded by NUS as a full blown University and the only discount card they give you is an NUS Associates card, which although is fairly decent, it isn't up to par with the usual NUS Extra Card students get.

I assumed that this would be true for the ISIC card however I felt obliged to have a go at getting one and completed the form with the Open University as my place of study and ticked the box to say I qualified (It was a minimum of 15 hours study per week, according to the OU two 30 point level one courses equate to approx 16hours per week).

Two days later and i find on my door matt an ISIC card all digitally completed and ready to have my photo placed in it! Bring on the bargains around Europe!

If you are an OU student I would definitely recommend getting one of these for the U.K or if you travel abroad at all all the better! It can be used in the U.K and around the world and gives discounts for everything from CD's and DVD's to cinema tickets and museums. A full list of U.K discounts can be found here and the main homepage where you can check out the card and its benefits can be found here.

If your an OU student please do share this news with your fellow students and friends, it is definitely worth knowing about. Go forth and make the most of your student status, however young or old you may be!!

Monday, 7 May 2007

M150 TMA04 Finished... and other things.

Another sigh of relief as this one bites the dust.

I have to admit I found this assignment fairly challenging, well question 3 anyway. It was a question geared at your ability to write a report in non-technical language, albeit in the most ambiguously constructed question I have ever faced at the OU. To be honest I am just glad to have completed it and know that I only have an ECA left for this course and a further ECA for T175 and then this year is done. I can look forward to 5 weeks travelling Europe with my girlfriend to recharge the batteries.

On a slightly different note I went to the last tutorial for T175 last wednesday. Only 3 students turned up, if i'm honest this is only the second tutorial I have attended for T175 but I'm glad I did, it was very reassuring and cleared up any questions I had as we talked through what was expected of us.

Whilst attending the tutorial a member of the guidance/support staff was there to discuss how we as students were finding the OU and what we were planning going forward. When I told her that I was registered for 90 points next year she laughed, as did my tutor, who then jested that my social life was gone. I hope their laugh's were unjustified but I guess this will be the place to look in twelve months time to find out!!

Once I have the results for this assignment I will post up my scores for the year for both T175 and M150, and when the End of Course Assessments are returned I will update those scores as well.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

learnvisualstudio.net target microsoft certification 70-528 exam


The guys over at learn visual studio .net have had a bit of a swing in direction and are now producing educational videos targeted directly at Microsoft certifications. The first batch which are being released throughout May 2007 are targeted at the 70-528 exam which is part of the MCTS and MCPD certifications. On first look these videos are great and I cant wait to get my hands dirty and hopefully work towards Microsoft Certification.

From what I have read over at the forums Bob Tabor, Founder of LearnVisualStudio.net, intends to target the vast majority of future content specifically at Microsoft certifications. This could be a very successful strategy indeed! Pop over to the site and have a look!

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

T175 TMA04 complete and submitted!!


Its taken its time this one, partly because I haven't been able to hit it in one go but also because I don't really think the questions are worded as clearly as they could be. I often spent 30 mins deliberating a question before answering it, thinking what do they really want?

TIP: Look at the learning outcomes at the start of an assignment and use them to target your answers, they are more helpful than I would have thought and to be honest I have never considered using them.

The TMA covered a lot of area's,

Question 1 focused very much on telemedicine in the UK and India and the limitations of such systems and implications of there existence. For those of you who don't know telemedicine is basically delivering medicine via technology. This often involves networks of sorts, in remote locations these will be satellite based. The result is that you can have a doctor in one part of the world viewing and diagnosing patient scans from a remote location such as a war zone or village. This can also be stretched further to telesurgery where a surgeon controls robots from a distance operating on a patient potentially from another continent. There seems to be a lot to consider here, from bandwidth and latency right through to responsiveness of the equipment. There would be absolutely no point in having the worlds best surgeon in America operating on a patient in say India if the equipment was very unresponsive and didn't behave as expected.

Question 2 surrounded the use of the U.S.A's Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) and Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC). The technology is based around the idea that cars can be equipped with GPS, and coupled with there hundreds of existing on board sensors from ABS to rain sensors, be able to communicate to roadside hubs and other vehicles their driving habits, speeds, direction of travel, acceleration, terrain and weather conditions. This should then be able to alert drivers in the vicinity of accidents and congestion and also whether intersections are safe to cross.

Question 3 targeted Databases and the U.K's pioneering National ID card programme and the Biometric data involved. You were questioning the issues surrounding a central database which stored such biometric information and the risks and implications that this could have. This question was very relevant and interesting and I enjoyed tackling it very much.

Finally, Question 4! This question covered health on-line and used this to discuss issues such as content, accessibility and usability of such services. You were asked to compare to online services such as NHS Direct and BBC health and evaluate how well the covered these basics. It was very interesting to see how different websites tackle different accessibility issues, especially the likes of health sites which are likely to have a very wide and diverse customer base.

Anyway all is done and I am looking forward to getting my End of Course Assessment done and completing this course!

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Second Year of the degree is starting to take shape!!

Good afternoon

As I am coming around to the end of my first year with the OU I have decided to write about where I am heading and what I intend to study.
For the first year of my degree I studied two 30 credit level 1 courses. These were T175 Networked Living: Exploring Information and Communication and M150 Data, Computing and Information.

I have found both of these courses thoroughly engaging and enjoyable and they have provided a really good broad base for my future studies in computing. I have found M150 more challenging and rewarding than T175 however this is mainly because I am from a programming background and it is the route I want to persure. T175 is a newer course and the materials are probably presented in a nicer way.

My Degree (B29 BSc(Hons) Computing) should in accordance with OU recommendations, be studied over 6 years at 60 credits per year. I have followed this path for the first year however I am going to step my study up to 90 credits next year with the aim of completing my degree two years early.

The 90 credits I am going to study over the next 12 months are the level 1 course MU120 Open Mathematics, the level 2 courses M263 Building Blocks of Software and M255 Object Orientated Programming with Java.

I found my first year very manageable and hopefully 90 credits should not but overly stretching myself. At the moment though I am looking forward to having the summer off when I will be travelling around Europe for 5 weeks. I look forward to properly blogging these courses as I study them and offering any ideas and suggestions as I go.


Saturday, 21 April 2007

Learn Visual Studio .NET Free Videos!!

Good morning!

Today I want to share a website I cam across in September 2006 at the start of my degree when I was looking to develop my Microsoft development skills. I downloaded the free Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/default.aspx with the goal of developing my programming abilities and broadening my skill base. Along side these express editions Microsoft provided Video's from a gentleman by the name of Bob Tabor, a Microsoft MVP, who was comissioned by Microsoft to provide a beginner to programming in .Net video series for newcomers to the platform and programming in general.

Needless to say the opportunity for free training had to be jumped at and I downloaded the VB.NET series to begin learning. Within a week I had worked my way through the development of an RSS Reader application with the help of Bob's videos and I was eager to learn more!

Learn Visual Studio .Net had a collection of well over 500 video's providing guidance and tuition and the liftetime subscription cost $199.00. This was a lot cheaper than any Microsoft Training I could have accessed in the U.K. and I felt that I would be of great benefit to me. I managed to talk to my employer and get them to agree to cover the cost as it was personal development. Within a few minutes of joining up I was downloading tutorial videos on technologies I had never thought I would have had the opportunity to develop in such as ASP.Net, ATLAS and C# 2.0.

If you are considering learning to develop in the .Net Framework or have ever been interested in taking it up I cannot recommend highly enough the free videos of LearnVisualStudio.Net. If you enjoy them as much as I have and want to develop more take Bob up on his rediculously cheap lifetime subsciption, you wont find training like it for anywhere near the money.

FREE video tutorial - LearnVisualStudio.NETOver 500 easy to understand, .NET video tutorials.


Monday, 16 April 2007

M150 - Javascript top tip

****UPDATED 22/04/2008****
Link to tutorial video HERE

I was thinking about which course I should post information on first, T175 or M150? I have gone with the latter for two reasons, coming from a development background this course presented the most programical challenges and secondly I found a great piece of software to help me through my TMA's.

M150 is a great foundation to my degree, I will complete it in two months and I have found it fairly easy to get to grips with the wide range of content you are presented with. So far I have studied the fundamentals of computing, from bits and bytes, to data storage, manipulation, html and JavaScript programming. JavaScript has definitely been the most interesting and rewarding topic covered in this course but on the other hand it has also been the hardest to get to grips with! TMA03 is almost completely programming based, building on the foundations of JavaScript that you are taught in units 7 - 10. The first part of my TMA involved 'debugging' a section of JavaScript code which was provided to me. Debugging is the process by which you analyse or look at a piece of code which contains errors and identify and correct them. This can be an arduous task and considering this question had the smallest score allocation it still took me a long time to solve.

The reason being I am used to having a tool which I can execute code line by line and find errors in specific lines quickly and easily. With JavaScript debugging in IE or Netscape the only feedback given to you is that there is an error!! This means you can't tell whether an amendment you've made has actually worked or not as there could still be different errors causing the problem.

Luckily after hunting the Internet I found a great piece of software called
Yaldex 1st JavaScript Editor Pro which had a built in debugger, allowing me to quickly step through code and solve problems. It was a life saver to say the least! It became invaluable in helping me write my code for the remaining questions in my assignment and I am sure I would not have scored 98% without it!

I used the 21day free trial however I was so impressed with the software I decided to buy it for good as I am sure it will become invaluable. It only costs around $49.00 (around £25 GBP) and was worth every penny.

I have added it to my links collection and would recommend anyone studying M150 or JavaScript makes use of it via the free trial or purchasing.

So that's my top tip for the day! I will have more don't worry!


Friday, 13 April 2007

Hello World!

Ok excuse the cliche, this is still all very new territory for me, a bit like my first attempt at programming!

Here's a little background about me, my name is Simon and I am 23 years old living in the United Kingdom. I dropped out of University after 6 months the first time around as I couldn't support myself financially and I wasn't happy with the course I was doing (BSc(Hons)Sound Engineering). That was 2002. After leaving university I went straight into employment through a temping agency and worked for a Customer Services department. Around 1 1/2 to 2 years later I left that company to move to my current company, where I started in customer services and quickly managed to demonstrate my aptitude with a PC and move into a development role.

4 Years later I decided I wanted a qualification to represent these skills to future employers and started to study again, this time with the Open University.

I am studying towards a BSc(Hons) Degree in Computing and I am going to try my best to blog the next 3.5 - 4 years of my degree and all the useful stuff that comes along with it both with the OU and outside of it.

I work in a small team for an insurance company developing bespoke applications and tools covering a wide array of areas and technologies. I enjoy my job and like to push the boundaries of what I do everyday. I also love to learn and hope that I can pass some of the knowledge I gain during my degree and outside of my degree to the Internet population.

Well I hope this all goes smoothly and look forward to learning and sharing lots of new things.