Sunday, 14 December 2008

M255 Results

Hi all

Apologies for the lack of blog posts, nothing really has been going on with my OU studies for a few months as the first 5 units of M257 have been revisiting topics I have covered in previous study. I di receive my M256 course materials though and I am readying myself for more involved study in the new year.

I received my M255 results on Tuesday last week, I scored a Pass 2 with 79% in the exam. I am really gutted as I had a TMA average of 92% and seemed to have slipped up on the exam.

Here is a breakdown
Overall examinable score (OES) :
Overall continuous assessment score (OCAS) :

Your performance on particular aspects
Part 1

Scale: 85-100%, 70-84%, 55-69%, 40-54%, 30-39%, 15-29%, 0-14%
Questions 01 to 20

Part 2
Scale: 85-100%, 70-84%, 55-69%, 40-54%, 30-39%, 15-29%, 0-14%
Question 21
Question 22
Question 23
Question 24

Its fairly obvious that question 23 let me down. I have attached the scores of all students below.
Scale: A = 85-100%, B = 70-84%, C = 55-69%, D = 40-54%, E = 30-39%, F = 15-29%, G = 0-14%

It looks like I wasn't the only person to struggle with the question, with over half of students acheiving 54% or less. The question revolved around Sets and I'd be interested to see the mark scheme as it must have been fairly strict for so many people to get it wrong.
Anyway, whats done is done, all I can do is give the rest of my studies my all and hope I achieve my potential.

I hope all is well and everyone who had results in December achieved what they wanted to achieve!

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! (I've got to get my assignement head on for TMAo1 M257!)


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A long time since the last post!

Its been a long time since my last post. I haven't been given a minute to write anything!

I have just finished M255 and sat my exam. The exam went well, everything I revised seemed to come up so I was very pleased. I have to wait until December for the results but TMA04 scored 97% so if I can get over 85% in the exam I will have scored my first distinction. I'm just going to have to wait and see though!

I have started M257 which is going fine, I have mainly been focusing on my M255 exam so I will need to redirect my attention to this course and get up to speed. I expect it will be more of the same though. This is my only course until I pick up M256 in January, so it should lead me up to Christmas nicely.

Plenty of first time OU students have been in touch and I'm glad to see some of the old posts are being visited and are of some use. I hope everyone's studies have kicked off to a good start and look forward to hearing how everyone is progressing.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

MU120 and M263 course results!

This is the first opportunity I have had to get my results up so apologies for the delay as they came out about 3 weeks ago!!

MU120 came in at 88% overall as I was a little lazy on the last TMA/CMA but its a more than comfortable pass and goes down as 30 credits towards my degree (slowly getting there).

M263 results were a little frustrating, I scored 83% in my exam and 83% in my overall continuous assessment (TMA average) scores which is 2% off a distinction on both counts! I'm obviously extremely pleased to have passed this course as it was a lot more difficult that I was expecting a level 2 course to be, but the knowledge that I got so close to a distinction makes me wonder if I could have just put that little bit more effort in.

Either way a pass is a pass and I am glad to put another years worth of study behind me!

Hope everyone else got the results they wanted....

Thursday, 24 July 2008

M255 TMA03 Results and response from OU

These came through yesterday and I scored 97%! which I am more than happy with! I dropped 3 marks in total which wasn't that bad, still, there is room for improvement though.

I received a reply from the powers at be over at the OU computing help desk (particularly Sue) regarding my query about syncing the OU personal calendar with Outlook or iCal. Apparently there is a small icon at the bottom of the personal calendar that allows you to sync it with iCal (I haven't checked yet) which is great news! Sue also said that they are working on getting all the course teams to have there TMA and Tutorial dates up on the personal calendar asap, although this may take a while, so keep your eyes peeled!! Hopefully by next year all our course info will be on there and we will get those prompts in student home reminding us a deadline or a tutorial is approaching for all of our courses.

I'm off to the continent for 3 weeks by car on 1st August but I will get on top of the blog as soon as I get back. I had an e-mail from a fellow M255 Student, Tim, who made some suggestions about possible useful things to have on the blog and I am going to try and incorporate them. I was also thinking of putting some of my past TMA's up for previous courses but I am not sure if this will annoy the OU?? Anyone know their stance on this?? I assume they change the questions each year, and I figure it might be a useful way for prospective students to get an idea of the work involved. I'll stew on that one over the summer break and decide when I get back.

Enjoy your summer!

P.S I'll be chucking a mint condition Ti-83 Calculator on eBay in the next few days which is required for MU120 so keep a look out!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

M255 TMA03 and iPhone3G

I spent today out of the office working on TMA03 for M255. I got through the 3 questions in around 6 hours, I really shouldn't have left it so late before the deadline but at least it is done and submitted.

The first question was worth 40 marks saw me coding up a soundex class using arrays, which is a form of algorithm dreamt up during the late 19th century to help account for all the different spellings of names during the censuses. A soundex basically generates a code which begins with a letter followed by 3 numbers, and words which sound similar have soundex's which are very similar. E.g. Robert and roburt would have the same soundex R163. A web implementation of a soundex can be found here and more information can be found here.

The second question was worth 25 marks and revolved around building an implementation of a coin game called Nim, this was fairly straight forward and took the least amount of time.

The third question was worth 30 marks and required me to work on a fanbase using Sets and Maps to group information and determine the most popular bands. This was definitely the hardest to get my head around although found that if I took 10 minutes to think through the problems I could structure the solution in my head and get it down in BlueJ, but it took longer than I would have liked.

Hopefully I have done enough to keep the marks up!

I went into Carphone Warehouse on Friday 11th July (iPhone 3G launch day) and bought an iPhone 3G, unfortunately they were out of stock but I was assured it would be delivered Monday as they reserved one from the warehouse. Well Its getting onto Thursday and still no news, hopefully they get some customer service together and sort this out, I know I'm not the only one waiting.

I didn't post this as a moan though.... I posted because I am interested to see if there is anyway I can get the OU to sync all the course calendars with outlook or iCal so I can sync them with my iPhone without having to manually write them all in. It can't be that hard to put a file on the course website and let the students download it to there PC/mac/mobile so it can sync up with their calendars, I know it would help me out a lot. Does anyone know if this is possible? I don't even know who in the OU to pitch this too but I will send an e-mail off shortly and see what they come back with.

I'm also looking forward to blogger releasing an iPhone app so I can update the blog on the move!

Monday, 16 June 2008

M263 Finished!! and other updates....

I have just got home after my M263 exam, and finally I am relieved to say I have finished the course! The exam actually went well, I took Thursday and Friday off to work through past papers, using the weekend to consolidate any areas I struggled on, and hand write full examples into the course handbook. One thing I did notice was that the past papers got progressively harder from 2004 - 2007, with 2007 being a lot more difficult than 2004. Needless to say the 2008 paper seemed to be a step up again, with the first 14 questions seeming more difficult than any of the past papers I had attempted. Either way it is all done now and it will be a case of awaiting my result.

I scored 74% on TMA04 for M263, which is a good result as at one point I was debating submitting it at all, fortunately that idea didn't last long! So hopefully through substitution and a good exam score I should achieve a 2.1, I'm not holding my breath though.

I also recently received my M255 TMA02 result, 89%, which is a 2 percent improvement on last time, however I did lose marks for not including some code in my submission document (it was it the java files). I basically coded everything only placing code into the word document when the tma stated to, after reading the from of the assignment booklet it said everything needs to be in there, so i copied and pasted it all and obviously missed some. Tough luck though, second time its happened in my OU career, hopefully it won't happen again.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The Fog Clears....

First of all I'd like to thank Simon Knights for his e-mail last week regarding my last blog entry, and in particular the AI course.

Simon made a very valid point which I hadn't considered. Whilst thinking about my future study path I was proposing to study all my level two courses up front leaving the last 2 and a half years of my degree as back to back level 3 courses. This got me thinking, is it wise to leave all the hard work until the end, or should I intersperse the level 2 and level 3 courses??

Unfortunately the choice was/is out of my control. There is a lot of uncertainty/rumours surrounding jobs at the moment and I need to get all my Java learning up together ASAP in case the worst happens and I find myself looking for work (Java seems to be a fairly employable skill set). As a result I have registered for M256 (30 points) and M257 (20 points) commencing January 2009 and October 2008 respectively.

I also contacted the OU regarding M253, the 10 point course which has the tag line of being the worst course people have ever studied (if you believe the reviews that is). The OU suggested I studied the May 2009 Presentation of M253 which would keep workloads down to a minimum over the academic year and mean that by September 2009 I will have my Diploma in computing. I haven't actually got around to registering for this course but I think it is inevitable that I will follow the OU's recommendations.

Obviously this is going to leave me with a whole load of level 3 work to tackle at the back end of my degree, I can only assume this is how traditional degrees pan out anyway??

M263 TMA04 is still being a real pain in the backside and is due in on Thursday, I have had to take some time off work tomorrow to really try and tackle these proof questions (work commitments have really limited the amount of time I can spend on these). I have managed to answer all the recursion and efficiency questions though, so worst comes to worst, the score will count towards substitution which will hopefully help out. I do plan on getting some marks out of these proof questions, whether or not it happens is a different question.

The next 4 weeks are stacking up with an assignment due in every Thursday for the next 3 weeks followed by an end of course examination. Couple that with normal study time of M255 and revision and I'd say I've waived goodbye to my social life for a month.

90 Credits really is not a good idea unless you have plenty of spare time!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Results for MU120 TMA03, M263 TMA03 and how much I hate proof

I got these results a few weeks ago, MU120 came in at 92%, which was a bit unexpected to be honest as my work rate on the units for this TMA was very low. If I had studied harder it probably wouldn't have taken so long to complete though!

M263 came in at 78% which is my lowest grade so far, however this course is getting TOUGH!! I really am having THE toughest time getting my head around proof. I checked in to the forums on FirstClass the other day and fortunately I don't appear to be the only person finding it hard. On looking at previous exam papers it has barely featured, and where it has you can choose an alternate question so I am not stressing too much..... well enough to spend £5 on passed papers!

(There was a tutorial yesterday to go over proof and recursion, however I was unable to attend, but to be honest I haven't found tutorials that great, we basically sit there and go through examples, and if you don't grasp the concept in the first place it isn't much help!)

I really don't want to throw this course away on the exam, I am determined to get a reasonable score, although I'm not sure if I have done enough assignment wise to get a distinction?? can anyone enlighten me??

On a separate note, my employers have been asking how much they need to budget for 2008/2009 studies and this has got me into the mindset of picking next years courses. I definitely don't plan on studying 90 credits in a year again! But I do find it exciting deciding what to study next. I think it will end up being Java Courses M256 and M257 but the interesting stuff seems to be at level 3 with courses such as Artificial Intelligence really catching my eye.

I'd be interested to hear what others have planned for next year?? For now though I am back to the books..... finish off these Java Classes on M255, which I will say over and over again is the most interesting and enjoyable course I have studied so far!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Yaldex Tutorial M150


So I have been banging on about this Yaldex video.....

Here it is!

Specifically aimed at M150 students for the debugging features which will save hours during M150 TMA's.

Apologies for the audio, recorded on a laptop with a mic built into the screen, did my best with what I had. The video is a little small so an alternative copy can be found HERE.

Software can be found HERE


MU120 TMA03 and M255 TMA01 results

I have had the results back for MU120 TMA03 and M255 TMA01;

MU120 TMA03 = 92%
M255 TMA01 = 87%

I am pleased with the MU120 score but was hoping for a higher score in M255. I left my marks slip in the last question, which involved an implementation of a piece of software to handle video rentals and asked you to improve it. I missed marks for my lack of accessor statements, which is my own fault and fairly obvious on retrospect.

The blog has seen a rise in hits since the OU published the Microsoft Dreamspark offer on Student home, seems people are benefiting from the info which is great!

I recorded the video for the Yaldex tutorial but I am not happy with the sound quality, I will try and remove some of the noise etc and get it up this week.

Friday, 11 April 2008

1 Year old

So i'm currently at the gym waiting for the better half to shower and thought I'd update the blog. I am glad to say the last week is over, which saw three assignment deadlines all come together and required some serious last minute time management (never again!). I can hopefully work on those Yaldex videos this weekend which will hopefully help a number of students study some of the level 1 OU Computing courses.

Whilst starting this blog i realised that it has been almost a year since it was first set up (13th April 2007) and I started to realise how much has changed in a year, both inside and outside my OU life, i'm quickly approaching my third year of a 5 year degree (fingers crossed) and I really do wonder where the time goes, answers on the back of a postcard......

Thats enough reminicing for today, i'm off home to indulge in some mario kart wii.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

MU120 TMA03, M263 TMA03, M255 TMA01 and Javascript video tutorials!

Its been almost a month to the day since my last blog post, which is very poor on my part, but is due to a combination of life and work and 3 assignments all falling at the same time.

I worked hard on Mu120, which although only being a level one course, I seem to be spending plenty of time on the questions come assignment time (maths never was my strong point). Coupled with the fact that my priorities are definitely toward getting high marks in M263 and M255 my actual study of the MU120 modules has slipped a lot in the last 6 weeks, meaning a lot of catch up and skimming during the assignment period.

The other two assignments are almost at completion, and even though I am only one assignment deep I have come to the conclusion already that M255 is definitely my favourite course so far, one which I recommend to any one interested in studying computing with the OU.

I'll post the scores when I know them.

Due to the popularity of my post about the Yaldex 1st Javascript Editor last year (it has been my most hit page for the last few months) I am going to record some very basic video tutorials about using the software, particularly for debugging for all the M150 students bashing there head against a brick wall come assignment time. This should be done within the next week and will be posted on the blog.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Microsoft Dreamspark for Students! (Free Software!!)

A very interesting topic came up today in the M263 Student Cafe on FirstClass. This was Microsoft's new programme called Dreamspark which basically is an extension to the Microsoft Academic Alliance programme which Microsoft runs for universities. 

The Dreamspark programme is aimed specifically at developers and provides free fully licensed copies of Microsoft products such as Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition, SQL Server Developer Edition and lots, lots more. Many of these products cost upwards of £500.00+ and as I'm sure many of you will be aware these are products that companies run s there development environments (mine certainly does). So whether its to learn to use the software, get a heads up on the environment or just get a license to a great piece of software make sure you take a look.
Below is a quick guide about how I went about getting my copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition.

Visit the Dreamspark site HERE.

You will be greeted by the site above. Have a little look around at what is on offer and then click the get started button at the bottom of the page.
The following image will appear. As you can see it shows you all the products available for download, these range from Windows Server 2003 and Game Development, to copies of Visual Studio Professional, SQL Developer and Microsoft's Expression Studio Suite of Graphics and Web Design Products. Click on the product that you would like to download by selecting its image.
In this example I have chosen to download Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition. I am then asked to begin the verification process to confirm I am actually entitled to download the software (prove I'm a student).
Click the Sign In button and log in with your Windows Live ID. If you don't have one then just click where it says Sign up for a Windows Live ID.
Once you are signed in you will have to select your Country from the download list and select your University. As the OU does not appear to be registered for the programme at the moment (they may choose to in future) we are going to select ISIC from the drop down list of universities ( You must have an ISIC Card or an Open University NUS EXTRA card see my entries HERE and HERE if you need to get one).
When you have clicked Select and Continue you will be presented with this screen which will ask you to enter your ISIC Card number or your NUS Extra Card Number (Last 12 Digits). Input this data and click verify. (Please note that at the time of writing there is a validation issue with NUS Extra Card numbers which I have contacted Microsoft about, I will update the blog when this has been corrected.)
Now all you need to do is download your software, tick to accept the terms (read them first of course) and then click to download.  Click the Get Key button in order to obtain your License of the product, which as far as I am aware is yours to keep. Once you have downloaded install the products and away you go.

Good luck! I hope you benefit from and enjoy using the software.


UPDATE: 06/03/2008
Response received from the Dreamspark Team. 
Dear Student:
Thank you for contacting ISIC. We are thrilled that you are taking action with DreamSpark!
If you are a current NUS ISIC holde, please make sure to prefix an S before your last 12 digits.
For Example, if your NUS last 12 digits are 8010 1234 5678, make sure that you write the number like S801012345678...........

Sunday, 24 February 2008

M263 TMA02 Results and M255 Tutorial

Results are in, I scored 83% on this TMA which I am a bit disappointed with, mainly because I lost marks for misreading questions. I also went along to my first tutorial for M255 last Wednesday which I enjoyed, we covered the usual introductions and went through some OO ideas making our own definitions etc, working with members of the Tutor group along the way which was a good way to get to know people.

My tutor did comment on the course picking up speed after unit three so it will be interesting to see how I manage to cope with it all..

Monday, 18 February 2008

MU120 TMA02 Results

Received this over the weekend which was a surprise as I had forgotten about it to be honest. I scored 96% which I am more than happy with.

I've taken this week off work to do some decorating etc but I'm hoping to get TMA03 and TMA04 completed and in the post so I can forget about this course for a while and concentrate on M263 and M255. Whether or not it happens though is a different thing altogether. I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

M263 TMA02

Last weekend saw the completion of TMA02 for M263, taking me to the half way point in the course which I am please about as I haven't found any concept so far overly difficult to understand. I hear the next few units on Proof etc are more complicated but we'll see.

The TMA was quite a long one, consisting of 8 questions and taking a decent amount of time to complete. The TMA had a large volume of coding surrounding it, which I enjoyed doing (when the workpad was playing along) however, the OU like you to include all source code in the TMA document as well as seperate text files, which leads to a decent sized document for submission.

I assume its an anti-plaigarism tactic, allowing there software to scan the contents of the .doc file while the Tutor marking the assignment can run the source code from text.

I began to heavily anotate my course handbook with examples of any ideas I was finding myself referencing directly from the cours texts during the TMA. (My one fear with this course is that there is going to be an awful lot to remember for the exam). We are allowed to take the course handbook into the exam so it makes sense to clarify any ideas that you know you may forget by exam time directly next to there reference in the handbook, and I would definitely recommend people do it whilst working through TMA's as they cover all of the Key Ideas of the course.

Thats all for now, hopefully I will be able to report back a decent TMA score shortly, for now I need to crack on with my amphibious worlds (M255).

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

M255 Materials Arrived

Finally the M255 course materials arrived this morning, just in the nick of time!

They were accompanied by a letter from my course tutor outlining his role and how we will interact as a tutor group which is something I have never had from an OU tutor before and it is quite reassuring that he is on top of whats going on (we've all experienced the tutors who are not so...)

I've got the software installed which consists of the Java SDK, an IDE called BlueJ and the M255 specific study materials. I haven't had a chance to play around with them yet as I have to get TMA02 completed for M263 by the weekend. One things for sure, the next few months will be interesting, if not least from a time managment perspective.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

New Course - MT264 Designing applications with Visual Basic

I have just had a 30 min study break whilst working through some of my M263 course materials this evening and decided to take a look at the courses I would like to study next year. I noticed that under computing there is a new level 2 course called "MT264 Designing applications with Visual Basic" which is due for its first presentation in September 2008.

The over view of the course suggests users will be programming using VB.Net and building applications from a basic foundation through to database linked levels. I can't help but wonder if the OU, by dipping its toe in a technology used widely across industry (referring to the dot net framework), is beginning to change direction from very much a Java focused syllabus to a more Microsoft oriented syllabus going forward.

I am going to phone the OU up tomorrow and see what qualifications this course will count towards because the description is not very clear, and it may just swing my decision of what to study in 2008/2009.

I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE 29/01/2008 - I received an answerphone message on Monday 28th from a member of the IT Faculty down in Milton Keyenes, my message appears to have got slightly lost in translation. I was told that this course can be studied as any other course can (my query related to B29 computing degree specifically, which has a relatively strict study path). I will have to return the call this week and see if I can squeeze some more specific information out, otherwise it will be a case of wait and see.


Saturday, 19 January 2008

MU120 TMA02

Although this isn't due for a few weeks I have spent the last few days working on TMA02 for MU120. I finally wrapped it up last night and I will submit it to my tutor at todays tutorial.

I haven't been giving MU120 as much time as I should, focusing most of my time on M263 as it counts towards my degree classification, but knowing that I'm starting M255 Object Oriented Programming with Java next week I thought I best get my work in order.

Maths has never been my strong point, however the TMA was fairly straight forward with the algebra sections taking up the majority of my time.

I would say that the OU teaching materials are first class at explaining mathematical topics such as algebra, and are a big step up from the way topics were presented to me at secondary school.

Maybe the government should look at licencing materials?

Monday, 7 January 2008

iTunes University (iTunes U)

I have been looking to broaden my learning whilst studying with the OU without having to worry about assignments and deadlines and over the past week I have come across iTunes U.

To put it simply, this is a place in the iTunes store where Universities can place video and audio from recorded lectures online and allow their students to download them on their PC or Mac. From here the audio can be listened to or alternatively moved direct to an iPod or CD for listening (whilst driving to and from work in my case).

Although this is intended for students of the Universities the materials and lectures are available freely to anyone in the world.

The range of subjects is incredible and best of all it is free of charge! Two particularly interesting courses I have been watching/listening to are computer science based from Stanford University and Berkeley University, which are two of the most prestigious establishments in the field of Computing. The topics are interesting and discussed from many angles with some of the best lecturers in their respective fields explaining ideas from the basics through to advanced levels. Many of the courses have video or slides which can also be downloaded which liven up the topics even more.

Many lectures can be subscribed to as Podcasts which download each week as the lectures become available online allowing you to follow the course, or alternatively you may only download lectures of specific interest to you. With each lecture lasting approximately 80 minutes they can hopefully improve the time spent in traffic on a day to day basis.

I would recommend this service to anyone as it doesn't cost a thing, requires no real commitment and will definitely engage your brain and provide a good background to topics that you may come across in more detail with your OU Studies.

Take a look, there are plenty of topics from all the different faculties at these prestigious Universities (I haven't had a chance to check if any British Universities have adopted the service yet but if not I'm sure it won't be long).

All the best and a Happy New Year