Wednesday, 25 March 2009

M256 TMA 01 Part 1

I received the results back for this a few days ago and scored 27%.... that's out of a possible 30% so not a bad start and with the rest of the TMA due in on 2nd of April I'm starting to wonder when I'm going to find the time to tackle it. This weekend seems to be a good option but fitting it around all my work commitments at the moment is a bit of a chore to be honest.

I tried to read some of the course material during my lunch breaks this week and I'm finding it all a bit dull. I'm not sure if its because M257 is so fast paced and engaging and M256 just seems to be reams and reams of text or because I just have so many other commitments at the moment that any free time I get I don't want to be studying.

I seem to be constantly having those day dream moments when you read a page about conceptual modelling and then realise when you get to the bottom of it you haven't taken any of it in at all. What you've actually been doing is thinking about whether you should have bolognese or lasagne for dinner. You then have to go all the way back to the top and re-read it, egging yourself on line by line to concentrate and take it in.

Lets be honest, learning shouldn't be this arduous and to date it hasn't been, hopefully when we move on to units later in the course it perks up a bit. It will definitely be all go next year with these level 3 courses kicking in.

Monday, 16 March 2009

A few good books....

I have recently bought some books to help me with Java and programming in general and thought I would write a brief description of each here on the blog, something that I can add to as I acquire new books and hopefully others studying this degree will find them useful.

The first book is Java In a Nutshell 5th Edition published by O'Reilly.

This book is big, don't get me wrong, but already it has proved a loyal desktop reference. It contains the full Java API documentation and the author has descriptive chapters covering all the key parts of Java from the basics through to Threading and Security. I think its one of those books that will stick with me well beyond my degree and came highly recommended by my tutor and half of the Internet according to google.

The second book is Head First: Design Patterns also published by O'Reilly.

Don't judge a book by its cover! This book is incredible and I am only a few chapters in. It takes everything I've learnt about Object Oriented Programming and shows me how best to apply it in differing circumstances. The great thing about this book is the way it is written. It uses lots of pictures and activities to reinforce you learning and I personally think the OU could take a leaf out of the authors book (no pun intended) and apply it to some of there course materials.

Head First is a whole series created by leading technical authors aimed at flipping technical texts on there head. I really feel like the learning is sticking without too much effort and I am sure I will read this cover to cover. Once I'm finished I think I will pick up the Head First: SQL book as looking at the sample on Amazon it looks as good as design patterns (and I can hopefully skip the dreaded M359!! or at least make it less painful!)

Take a look at the preview of any of the Head First books and I'm sure you will agree that they are good, if you don't want to buy them try and get them from your local library as they are not worth missing out on.

M257 TMA02

I received the results for TMA02 on Friday, they came in at 98% which is a great score and I'm very pleased with it.

I'm finding the course really interesting and it suits me as it is heavy on the programming front which is something I thoroughly enjoy. In this assignment I was able to make use of the Swing package of the Java platform to write some pretty interesting GUI's and simple animations. The more familiar I get with Java the more I enjoy using it and in addition it is extremely similar to C# which I think will be of great benefit for cross training in the future.

The course is on the final stretch to the Exam now and I am studying the remaining core units on Threads before submitting TMA03 and prepping for the exam. Looking at the test paper its going to be a challenging one!