Friday, 17 December 2010

M362 and M363 Results

The results were made available last night and I am overall quite pleased with how I did.

M362 I scored 73% in the exam giving me a pass 2, I was initially a little disappointed with this grade until I looked at how all the other students faired with 46% of all students who sat the exam scoring less than the 40% minimum. This proved to be a particularly difficult exam but I'm glad I was able to keep up my grade in the pass 2 region.

M363 was very similar in score with 74% giving me a pass 2 again, students in general seemed to have a fairly evenly spread distribution of scores, with 9% getting distinctions and 19% getting pass 2's the rest of the grade ranges followed in the teens.

I enjoyed the study last year and have just registered for my next lot of courses. After seeking advice from the OU they have suggested I don't study 2 level 3 courses and my final project at once, which is a shame really as it adds another year on to my studies but does mean I won't let my degree suffer as a result. I have gone for M366 Natural and Artificial Intelligence and M359 Relational Database theory and design.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Open University Changes to IT program update!

Following the last blog, and judging by the comments I'm not the only person who couldn't get the link to work, the OU has sent another e-mail out with a revised link which is direct to the ou website.

A copy of the email is below..

We recently contacted you to let you know about changes to our Computing and ICT qualifications.

In the message we sent you we provided details of a website for you to visit to find out more. Unfortunately, we are experiencing problems with this website and have therefore set up an alternative.

The new website can be accessed at

Please visit this site for details of the changes to our Computing and ICT qualifications and to find out how you and your studies may be affected by these changes.

If you have problems accessing this site please contact the Faculty using the enquiry form at

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Linda Landsberg
Programme Manager

The website is quite comprehensive and contains details of what is happening and letters to students of each of the affected courses explaining what is happening and the impact that it will have.

The outline of the B62 course is also made available, this is the course that will replace a large number of the undergraduate computing courses. It seems to be an amalgamation of technology and computing syllabuses with M450 being replaced by TM470 (which I think might be the module I end up taking if this is indeed M450's last presentation). A quick browse of google turned up this link, which seems to confirm my suspicions and means my final project will be a first presentation course. There also sees to be nested documents for each of the joint honours B67 degrees, if people feel that they would be valuable to link them I can upload them also.

I have uploaded a copy of the B62 structure here.

It does seem very broad, the pathways document outlines 3 Accredited strands being Software Engineering, ICT and IT and Computing. These three strands appear to maintain a level of BCS accreditation which is good but I am unsure at what level the accreditation will be. When looking at the pathways advice document it outlines more refined core strands including vendor certification and work-based learning which I assume do not have the BCS accreditation that the others maintain.

Both documents have been attached below.

I hope that gives existing students and those who cannot access the website enough information to go on. I think its important that people understand what their options are and what the impact of this decision to amalgamate the syllabus will have on your choice of degree.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Open University IT course changes

This blog has been updated. Click HERE
Last night I received an e-mail stating that the OU will be replacing a lot of there qualifications in the IT area and replacing them with new courses. A copy of the e-mail is attached.

We are contacting you to let you know about changes to ALL of the OU’s Computing and ICT qualifications.

What are the changes?
For complete details of the changes visit our website at If you have problems accessing this site please contact the Faculty using the enquiry form at

The following new qualifications have been introduced:
* Certificate in Computing and IT (K10)
* Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in Computing and IT (E66)
* Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in Computing and IT Practice (E67)
* Foundation Degree in Computing and IT Practice (G23)
* BSc (Hons) Computing and IT (B62)
* BSc (Hons) Computing and IT Practice (top up) (B68)
* BSc (Hons) Computing and IT (joint honours) (B67)

Currently the B67 joint honours qualification is available as:
* BSc(Hons) Computing, IT and Business
* BSc(Hons) Computing, IT and Design
* BSc (Hons) Computing, IT and Mathematics
* BSc(Hons) Computing, IT and Statistics
* BSc (Hons) Computing, IT and Psychology

These replace the following qualifications that are to be withdrawn:
* Diploma in Computing (D12)
* Diploma in Information Technology (D39)
* Diploma of Higher Education in ICT (E39)
* Diploma of Higher Education in Computing and its Practice (E41)
* Diploma of Higher Education in Business Information Technology (E45)
* Foundation Degree in Information and Communication Technologies (G04)
* Foundation Degree in Computing and its Practice (G06)
* Foundation Degree in Business Information Technology (G13)
* BSc (Hons) Information Technology and Computing (B13)
* BA/BSc (Hons) Computing and Mathematical Sciences (B14)
* BSc (Hons) Computing (B29)
* BA/BSc (Hons) Computing and Statistics (B34)
* BSc (Hons) Computing with Business (B35)
* BSc (Hons) Information and Communication Technologies (B38)
* Top-up BSc (Honours) Computing and its Practice (B40)
* BSc (Hons) Computing and Design (B44)
* BSc (Hons) Computing with Psychological Studies (B49)

B40 will be withdrawn on 31 December 2012.
G13 will be withdrawn on 31 December 2016.
All the other qualifications will be withdrawn on 31 December 2014.

What does this mean for me?
If you want to claim one of the existing qualifications you must complete all the academic requirements before the relevant final withdrawal date.

If this is not possible, you will need to transfer your studies to one of the new qualifications.

All modules which count towards our current qualifications can also be counted towards the new qualifications.
To find details of the changes and how you are likely to be affected you must visit our website at If you have problems accessing this site please contact the Faculty using the enquiry form at

Where can I get more information?
If you need further help or information please get in touch with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service by emailing or by phoning +44 (0)845 300 6090.

Linda Landsberg
Programme Manager
Undergraduate ICT and Computing

It looks like I have until 2014 to finish my studies, which is fine but it will be interesting to see the implications for students who started there degrees later than me. The B67 degree seems to be covering off a large number of undergraduate qualifications, I wonder what it will actually consist of and if it will maintain the BCS accreditation currently provided by the B29 Computing degree.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Augmented Reality TED 2010

I have just come across this incredible demo of Augmented Reality by Blaise Aguera architect of Microsoft's Bing Maps. This is really worth a look, it actually blew my mind! Its incredible to think where computing will go in my lifetime.

Watch the video

I wonder when it will feature in the OU's syllabus as an area of study?!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Exams are over!

So the exams are over, Monday's didn't go great (the M362 exam) but I guess its the luck of the draw, we'll see what the overall results are. I was a lot more comfortable in M363 exam with everything I revised coming up in the first section. The second section of the exam was a lot more focused on diagrams which could go either way I guess. I got through the paper at a fair speed and spent a bit of time at the end checking over sections and making sure everything was as good as it could be.

The results are due mid december so fingers crossed until then. I took a way a few lessons on revision for this exam, I think at level 3 it is important to start revision a lot earlier as the volume of information is quite high, also buying past papers from the OUSA for £1.25 is definitely worth it as they give you a good way of seeing how your revision is progressing. I'm looking forward to a study break before January and then picking up the exciting world Artificial Intelligence.

Thanks to J for clearing up the M450 situation on my previous blog. As soon as I find out the details I shall post them up.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

M362/M363 TMA03 Results and Revision

O.k. so it has been a huge gap since my last post, I have had the joy of holding down two level three courses at the same time as planning a wedding/getting married which is definitely not for the feint of heart.

I received my M362 TMA result within a week of submitting it, however M363 was a little slower only being received last week. The results were 95% for M362 and 85% for M363, which are both strong marks and are probably an accurate reflection of how both course went during the final blocks. M362 was definitely the more enjoyable of the two courses and has really taken my Java knowledge that step further.

I attended a revision day two weeks ago for my exams which are tomorrow (for M362) and Wednesday for M363. The OU managed to put both revision days on at the same time in two completely different locations so I decided to attend the one that I had scored better in the assignments for as I want to acheive that ellusive distinction. It was a bit frustrating to be honest, if you look at the proposed learning path for the B29 degree it almost recommends doing these courses at the same time so bookig the revision days together is a bit of an oversight.

Whilst attending the revision day I managed to talk to my tutor about M450 and hat it entails, I was envisaging trying to complete my degree next year by studying two level 3 courses alongside M450 (working a compressed week of 4 days). My tutor suggested that we don't study ANY course at the same time as M450 as it is likely that your project will suffer, in his experience people found managing a project difficult as it is something completely new to a lot of students.

I was hoping that with M450 being listed as its final presentation I could jump on board before they change it, however its now looking like I'll be picking up whatever replaces it and judging by other blogs and reviews sitting an OU course on its first presentation really isn't the best of ideas.

As it stands I plan to take the databasing course and the artificial intelligence course M366 as I only plan on doing this degree once and why not delve into areas that interest me no matter what the potential difficulties are. I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

If anyone has heard about what will be replacing M450 it would be great if you could post some details. As for now I'm back into revision mode!

Good luck with your exams to any one who is sitting them.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

M362 and M363 TMA02 Results

So results are in... I scored 89% in M362 which is fine, it keeps my average well above the necessary 85% for the assignment aspect of the course. I lost some marks for the quality of my logs, essentially when I wasn't finding things difficult I didn't state any lessons learned. As my tutor quite rightly pointed out just because things aren't hard its always good to take a step back and look at what you might have done differently or why you took a particular approach and I know this will be key for M450 so point taken.

M363 was a little more disappointing, I scored 74%. I know I'm not particularly enjoying this course and this grade is reflecting that, I think its just not engaging enough although that doesn't excuse letting the grades slip. I think I'm going to have to knuckle down for the last TMA to give myself a chance in the exam although its going to be pretty difficult now. These courses are the ones that will be having the most impact on my degree classification so I can't afford to get complacent.

I hope everyone else's studies are going well.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Cloudera Certified Hadoop Developer (CCHD)

I recently attended a Cloudera ( training course in London which covered technologies such as hadoop, pig and hive that I had been putting to use on Amazon's EC2.

Hadoop is a piece of software developed as part of the apache project that can be deployed on cloud infrastructures making distributed computing easy, well at least a heck of a lot easier than it used to be! The framework is extremely friendly and is based upon an implementation of Googles MapReduce concepts and the Hadoop Distributed File System or HDFS (for more information visit cloudera). The combination of these technologies makes for some really powerful computing capability with relatively small development time compared to some of the more traditional approaches that are currently employed by organisations. Looking at the increase in job ratings relating to hadoop over at itjobswatch it appears to becoming used in more and more organisations, so obtaining a qualification in this area could do your career some favours during the recession.

Cloudera are the only organisation to currently offer a certification path for hadoop so I took advantage of the fact that they came over to Europe to teach the course in London and Berlin at the beginning of June. The course was lead by Aaron, a Cloudera employee/developer, who has a vast knowledge of all things Hadoop and teaches extremely well.

After the course I took the certification exam which was a lot harder than I was expecting, certainly not a course you could "wing" for want of a better phrase. Fortunately I passed and gained my certification, although if you fail you do get another attempt after a 7 day gap giving those who need it a second chance with ample revision time.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

M362 and M363 TMA02's submitted

Its been a busy 6 weeks having to get on top of the study and submit these two assignments. I submitted M363 a couple of weeks ago and it went o.k. I don't find the modelling particularly interesting (much more of a coder) so I struggle to dedicate as much attention to it as I should. On the flip side it is really important to have the modelling background because you save yourself a heck of a lot of time and headaches in the long run if you just invest some time in a project up front.

I enjoyed M362 TMA02 even if it was a bit trickier than the last assignment. We were asked to work through building up a chat client and creating a functioning (although limited) wiki using Enterprise JavaBeans, Remote Method Invocation and all that jazz.

Really enjoying getting my head around J2EE and some of the more interesting topics in modern computing.

Monday, 3 May 2010

M363 and M362 TMA01 Results

I received the results for both assignments last week and scored 84% in M363 (UML based assignment) and a suprising 92% in M362 (concurrency based assignment), which for anyone who read my last post will appreciate is not what I was expecting.

I'm glad I re-attempted the last question on deadline day as it has certainly paid off, although judging by the materials I have been studying since then the next assignment will be equally difficult. Still, its nice to be stretched mentally and I'm enjoying the satisfaction of overcoming the problems.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

M362 - TMA01

Wow, definitely one of the most difficult assignments I have completed since I began my degree. This assignment dealt with concurrency issues such as semaphores, locks and latches as well as many other generic concepts. I really found question 4 a tough one to crack, the first three questions I answered on the week leading up to the deadline and unfortunately due to work commitments question 4 was left until the night before. I have to admit it was difficult, I got in from work at 5:30p.m. on 19th April and worked through solidly until 11:00 p.m. at which point I gave up. I was extremely frustrated that I couldn't get my head around these concepts but realised that I could stay up all night and go no further.

I submitted my assignment including an incomplete Question 4 just after 11:00 p.m. and went to sleep feeling annoyed at myself and extremely tired. On the morning of the 20th (deadline day) I awoke at 5:45 a.m. and thought I would take another look at the question with a fresh head. Within 45 minutes I had completed the question from scratch, this time it seemed a lot easier than the night before however this is probably as I was less fatigued and had processed some of the information from the previous night. I submitted my assignment by 7 a.m. feeling a lot happier and headed off to work.

I learned a life lesson from this assignment, expect the unexpected! Just because I coped with the first three questions which covered 80% of the assignment, the last 20 marks were nearly beyond me and all because I left the assignment to the last minute. I have been working longer days this year being away from home for upwards of 12 hours a day. and as such I have not been able to devote the same amount of time as normal to my degree. I may look into compressed weeks to relieve some of the strains as level 3 study really is looking to be a step up from all my other study so far.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

M363 TMA 01

The first TMA for this course was due in last week and I have to say I found it fairly time consuming an challenging. The first change I noticed is the volume of research reading you had to do in order to support your answers, no more clear cut heres the answer, more a read around and evidence your reasoning.

This sounds pretty straight forward and with the help of the OU library which has subscriptions to all the major journals searchable via web front end to an extent it was, however the challenge came when to scholars contradict each other and trying to encompass both sides of an opinion in your answer with only a 400 word limit.

The TMA focussed on software development methodologies and some modelling using the UML tool UMLet which is Free Open Source Software available here. This is a change from violet which was the UML software used in M256. Both are extremely easy to use and learn I would recommend either, they can also be used as Eclipse plugins which is great.

I definitely developed some new skills completing this TMA! What I would say is that the time required for level 3 TMA's seems a lot longer than previous levels of study as you are being encouraged to think for yourself and not just reference university materials. This means you spend a large amount of time reading around the subject but essentially come out with a TMA no different in size to any other I have done.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

I've recently been developing Java Graphical applications using a piece of software called processing. Processing is an open source project which has a very simple IDE and is based on the Java language that can be used to generate graphics and just about anything your imagination can stretch to with minimal effort.

The whole idea behind processing was to enable non techie people to get into using code for art and design, however the processing framework can easily be imported into eclipse IDE or Netbeans if you want to push your work further. The IDE allows you to start with simple Java scripts called Sketches which generate Java Applets to display your creations.

This is fantastic for beginners as these sketches hide all the intricacies of Java from the developer and allows them to just get on and code. As people learn more they are able to break out there projects into classes (which are treated as inner classes at compile time) and then move there sketch into a fully fledged IDE in the future should they wish. I think this could be a fantastic learning platform for the OU to take advantage of, and anyone out there interested in generating graphics in Java should also take a look.

I've done some more advanced stuff using Processing within eclipse which I am happy to make available to give advanced users an idea on how to get started. I would recommend checking the forums and getting started guides over at

Friday, 5 February 2010

M362/M363 The final frontier.....

Hi all

Its been a while since I have updated the blog and I am slowly progressing through my level 3 study, fortunately I seem to be ahead of the game in terms of materials, already up on units 1-3 for both M362 and M363. I am happy too report that whilst both these courses have been taking up my time, they follow naturally on from M257 and M256 respectively.

Alot of old ground has been glossed over to recap which is quite refreshing and some ideas have been taken to alot more depth than they were during level 2. I am really enjoying my study so far more so the programming in M362 over the theory of M363 but this is always what I have been expecting in terms of my personal interests.

On a different note I have picked up on the open source project which uses a java based front end to teach basic programming and do some immense art through code!! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in programming no matter how familiar/unfamiliar you are with java. Its a great way to try simple graphical development and even the basics of game development through a great front end and online community.

I have noticed that the dates of my posts are no longer appearing next to my blog articles and I am hoping to implement a new front end over the next few days to accommodate these changes to the back end, so don't be surprised if the theme of the block changes quite drastically.

I hope everyones studies are going well and wish you all the best of luck!