Friday, December 12, 2008

M450: Still no result

Well its the 12th of December, the day I should have received my M450 result by, but my course page is still showing the result as Pending.  The most frustrating aspect is not being given any reason why my result is pending.  I do hate being kept in the dark!

I see back in 2005 the OUSA (Open University Students Association) East of England Region said

The Association calls upon the University to introduce a mechanism so that where final results are notified as "pending" to an OU student, that the reason(s) and likely delay period are given and subsequent explanation given for any additional delays.

ref: OUSA in the Eastern Region

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

M450: Argh!!!

I have just been informed by a fellow M450 student, Stuart, that the results are out.  So I quickly went to my student home page only to discover that my result is Pending.

It has not been possible to finalise your result in the time available before our scheduled results release date. We realise how important it is for you to receive your result quickly and we are working to provide this as a priority. Our aim is to send your result to you within six weeks where this is possible but often it will be within less time than this. Unfortunately the priority we give this work means we are unable to handle related telephone enquires during the initial six week period.

The really annoying aspect is that the student home page gives no clear indication as to why my result is delayed, although a couple of thoughts have come to mind.  So I am now going to have to wait for up to another 6 weeks before getting my result :(

Still Stuart got a distinction.  Well done Stuart!!!  And two other friends of mine have also got their results.  One got a distinction and the other passed.

Friday, November 07, 2008

OU (MW): Working from back to front

Having decided upon a content layout I have started to think about the various bits of code of will need for each area.  After sometime contemplating how all these bits of code should fit together to form the final program I decided that perhaps a better approach would be to create the final program first and then I can use elements of this code with my core text to demonstrate certain aspects, for example the default constructor.  My program is now complete and it demonstrates a default constructor, constructors with arguments and the 2 ways of using the this keyword, by producing multiple instances of my Frog class.  Now to get on with the text.

The code:

void setup() {
size(640, 480);
background(255, 248, 220);

void draw() {
Frog freddo;

for (int i = 0; i < 75; i++) {
switch (int(random(0, 6)+1)) {
case 1:
freddo = new Frog();
case 2:
freddo = new Frog(int(random(52, 588)+1),
int(random(37, 442)+1));
case 3:
freddo = new Frog(int(random(0, 254)+1),
int(random(0, 254)+1),
int(random(0, 254)+1));
freddo = new Frog(int(random(52, 588)+1),
int(random(37, 442)+1),
int(random(0, 254)+1),
int(random(0, 254)+1),
int(random(0, 254)+1));

class Frog {
// properties
int xPos;
int yPos;
int redColBody;
int grnColBody;
int bluColBody;

// constructors
// default constructor
Frog() {
this(320, 240, 0, 128, 0);

// constructor (position)
Frog(int xPos, int yPos) {
this(xPos, yPos, 244, 164, 96);

// constructor (coloured body)
Frog(int redColBody, int grnColBody, int bluColBody) {
this(320, 240,redColBody, grnColBody, bluColBody);

// constructor (position & coloured body)
Frog(int xPos, int yPos, int redColBody, int grnColBody,
int bluColBody) {
this.xPos = xPos;
this.yPos = yPos;
this.redColBody = redColBody;
this.grnColBody = grnColBody;
this.bluColBody = bluColBody;

// methods
void display() {
// body
fill(redColBody, grnColBody, bluColBody);
ellipse(xPos, yPos, 90, 45);
// feet
fill(107, 142, 35);
ellipse(xPos - 30, yPos + 15, 45, 23);
ellipse(xPos + 30, yPos + 15, 45, 23);
// eyes
fill(255, 255, 255);
ellipse(xPos - 15, yPos - 23, 23, 30);
ellipse(xPos + 15, yPos - 23, 23, 30);
fill(0, 0, 0);
ellipse(xPos - 15, yPos - 23, 8, 8);
ellipse(xPos + 15, yPos - 23, 8, 8);
// mouth
arc(xPos, yPos - 2, 30, 5, 0, PI);

The output:


Thursday, November 06, 2008

OU (MW): Welcome back old friend

Part of the criteria for my chunk (like a majority of all the chunks) is to develop a progam to demonstrate what I have written about and to try and get it to do something graphical.  Thus I have been musing over the last couple of days as to what graphically I can do to demonstrate the use of constructors.  I do not want to do anything that is too complicated as I don't want it to detract from the main point of the code, but I do want to make it interesting and perhaps fun.

Well last night I decide to welcome back on old friend from the time I studied M206.  For this course we were taught all about OOP's via the use of frogs.  These weren't just normal frogs, there was also HooverFrogs, DietingFrogs, frogs that could barn dance and toads.  So let me introduce Freddo (for those who remember the chocolate bar).

     My Freddo                    The real Freddo

I will now be able to demonstrate different constructors, creating Freddo's in different places on the screen and in different colours

M450: Cinders is not going to the ball

This morning I received an e-mail concerning my application for one of the two places at the Computer Science 2008 conference.  Unfortunately due to the number of applicants and the "high quality of all the projects" I was not selected, though the feedback was positive and I am now really intrigued as to what final grade I am going to achieve for my project.

However, the selection panel agreed that your project was highly commendable and you will be receiving a letter of commendation in recognition of this from the M450 course chair.

OU (MW): Content layout

Prof. Ince has confirmed that I can do chunk 62 "Constructors", so I have been working on what content to include and how to lay it out.  This is what I have decided on:

  • Introduction
    - What has been covered so far
    - What are constructors?
  • Default Constructors
    - Hidden
    - User specified
  • Overloading Constructors
    - Arguments and setting instance properties
    - the this keyword (part 1) - setting instance properties
  • Advanced Constructors
    - Argument checking
    - The this keyword (part 2) - invoking a constructor
  • Summary
  • Program putting all the ideas togeather

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

OU (MW): Committed

Having read chapters 1 & 3 of Processing: Creative Coding and Computational Art I decided upon committing to chunk 15 "Functions 2".  I e-mail'd Prof. Ince with my decision and then started to think about a layout for the chunk.

Purely by chance I discovered that someone else has already committed to chunk 15, so I have had to revisit my list of candidate chunks and upon deciding a replacement I e-mail'd Prof. Ince with my new choice.

My chunk of choice is now chunk 62 "Constructors".  Tonight I will read through pages 309 -311 of the book, and also dig out the corresponding section(s) from the course text for M254 - Java Everywhere that I took back in 2005 as it might prove useful.

OU (MW): To do list

A simple to do list so I know what is outstanding.

  • Decide to participate of not. Done
  • Read the introduction to Processing. Done
  • Read the wiki entry on "Blog".  Not required
  • Send email giving details about myself and willingness to participate. Done
  • Set up a blog. Done
  • Decide on what chunk to write. Done (04.11.08)
  • Email details of the chunk I want to write. Done (04.11.08)
  • Download and install the Processing IDE. Done (28.10.08)
  • Order the Processing book. Done (28.10.08)
  • Read chapters 1 and 3 of the book. Done (04.11.08)
  • Write the chunk.
  • Email the finished chunk.


  • The book to order:
    Processing: Creative Coding and Computational Art (Foundation)
    Ira Greenberg
    ISBN: 9781590596173
    at Waterstones

Monday, November 03, 2008

OU (MW): Google Reader

Apart from keeping an eye on everyone's blogs by using Feedreader, I have clumped them altogether within Google Reader (see here: MassWriting) and added them to my blog as a widget.

M450: Gobsmacked!!!

I received an e-mail last week from a lecturer in the Department of Computing at the OU asking if I was interested in applying for one of the two places, in the form of bursaries, at the Computer Science 2008 conference in December.  This all sounded very interesting and I replied saying that I would be interested in attending.  Yet the part of the e-mail that really surprised me was...

...your name was put forward as a potential candidate by the M450 course team who were very impressed with quality of your undergraduate project work.

Considering how I felt about the project and what I had produced, I was really gobsmacked when reading the above comment.  Still I must not get me hopes up to high with regards to my final result for M450.  Only 39 more days until the results are supposed to be available.

OU (MW): Book and Chunks

This morning I received my copy of Processing: Creative Coding and Computational Art (ordered via Amazon), so now to start reading.  I will start with chapters 1 & 3, as recommended by Prof. Ince, and then move onto the sections in the book corresponding to the candidate chunks that I have identified whilst trying to decide for which one I should write.

I went through the complete list of chunks, last week, and from each block of ten chunks identifying at least one that is of particular interest. I ended up with a list of eight candidate chunks and from there I eliminated half of them.  The plan now, after reading the corresponding sections from the book, is to prioritise the remaining 4 candidates and e-mail Prof. Ince with my choice.

Note:  Someone else has already chosen one of the chunks that I have in my candidate list, thus I am now down to three candidates.

Note:  Having done a brief skim through the book, I am intrigued as to why we don't have to read chapter 2.  Might have to e-mail Prof. Ince to enquire as to why.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

OU (MW): Processing - A Bug!

Yesterday I downloaded and installed Processing.  I then started going through the "Getting Started" page of the web site and everything seemed to be going ok.  That is until I went to save same code.  It just would not save.  Every time I tried, the IDE kept responding with the message "Save Canceled".


I had a look around the web site and found that this is a known bug and was reported on the 27.Oct.08.

This morning I discovered the exact nature of the bug.  If when saving a new sketch you accept the default supplied filename (i.e. sketch_081029a) the save will be cancelled.  The work around is to overwrite the filename given in the "File name:" field, of the "Save sketch folder as..." dialogue box, with a filename of your choice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

M450: Course result available on...

Saw this on my StudentHome page yesterday...


OU (MW): Up the garden path

Simon K. left an interesting comment on my previous posting "OU: Mass Writing", and after re-reading the posting I realised that I might have mislead people with what I have written.  Prof. Ince in his blog gives a better description of what the book is about.

The book writing project involves OU students, and anyone else who wants to volunteer, writing a book about the Java-based computer-art system known as Processing.

Once completed the book might be considered for use within a course, and if accepted for publication by a conventional publisher...

the royalties will go to the student hardship fund or any other charitable fund in the Open University

Thursday, October 23, 2008

OU: Mass Writing

Received an e-mail this morning from a Professor Ince, the Head of Computing dept. at the OU, asking if I would like to collaborate on a book about Computer Art.  Sounds grander than it probably is.  The department actually is looking for 85 volunteers, with each volunteer completing a section comprising of 2,500 words and a computer program.  I have decided to volunteer as it looks as though it could be fun.

For further details take a look at page 5 of the Autumn issue of Sesame.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Somebody with to much time on their hands

I know these are old but they are still entertaining...

The OU has caught a cold

It is not only county and borough councils that have been caught out by the collapse of several Icelandic banks.  It now appears that a number of UK universities have also caught a cold, including the Open University.

The Open University said it had invested £6.5m in UK subsidiaries with the Icelandic banks.

"The funds at risk with these two banks, although significant, represent less than 4% of the university's cash holdings and 1.5% of the university's expenditure budget this year.

"There is no threat to the university's operations and staff and suppliers will be paid as normal," said vice-chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley.

This really begs the question "What was so special about these banks to entice so many high profile depositors?"

ref: BBC News

Friday, October 17, 2008

M366: In conversation with... a computer program

ref:  BBC News

Stuck for someone to talk to? Elbot is a computer program pretending to be a person. And this week it won a prize for coming closest to fooling people into thinking it was human. The BBC's Mark Lobel catches him in a more relaxed moment. 

No computer has ever passed the Turing Test to see if, during text-based conversation, a machine can be indistinguishable from a person. But Elbot just came pretty close.

At the 18th Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence, held at the weekend, this artificial intelligence entity convinced four of the 12 human interrogators he was indistinguishable from them.

If Elbot had convinced one other, it would have passed the magic 30% mark - the threshold set by Britain's most famous code-breaker, Alan Turing, who devised the test back in 1950.

What's more Elbot, the very same version that came so close to passing itself off as a living, breathing, sentient human being (under Turing's rules at least), is online - for anyone to talk to. Let's see if he's feeling chatty. [...]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

M366: Test explores if robots can think

Reported on the BBC's news web site:

Scientists at the University of Reading tested five machines to see if they could pass themselves off as humans in text-based conversations with people.

The test was devised in 1950 by British Mathematician Alan Turing, who said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was "thinking".

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Do you duty!

Keep things safe

Since starting my OU studies one of my primary concerns has been making sure I have adequate backups of all my OU data.  This is especially relevant to the current course being studied and the TMA being worked on.  There can be nothing more frustrating and depressing than loosing a TMA that is 90% complete and having to recreate it from scratch.  Data loss can come in many guises, such as hard disk failure; loosing a memory stick; corrupt file, and with this in mind I always have 3 copies available at any one time.  One on my home PC, one on my laptop and one on my work PC.  This sounds nice and secure but the problem has been in keeping the 3 machines synchronised.

Over the last few years I have tried various methods including manual copying and trials of commercial packages (i.e. Handy Backup).  Well today I have come across an Open Source program, Synkron, that looks as though it will do the job.

It has a number of features, including:

  • Synchronise multiple folders
  • Tabs allow you to have more synchronisations running at once
  • Periodical synchronisations automatically sync your folders in selected intervals
  • Restore files, which were overwritten during the synchronisation
  • Add files and folders to black list to make sure they won't be synchronised in the future
  • Make schedules and backup using multisync
  • Propagate deletions

With multiple supported platforms:

  • Apple Mac OS X (Universal)
  • Microsoft Windows (Installer)
  • Linux/Unix (Source code, RPM, Ubuntu, Archlinux and ALT Linux packages)

The one drawback is the lack of documentation, although there is a support forum.  Even so it is a simple program to use and I would recommend taking a look at it if you are wanting a way of synchronising data.

M366: A cry for help

Having got hold of the course text (blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6), in electronic form, for M366 I have made a start on block 1 only to discover that there are other documents that I need (i.e. Dartmouth.pdf supplied on the course DVD).  So I am wondering if anyone who reads my blog and has already done M366 can let me have copies of the other documents (in electronic form) needed for M366.

Some Interesting Statistics

With Valentino Rossi having recently won his 6th MotoGP championship and Troy Bayliss having won his 3rd WSBK (World Superbike) championship, have come up with some interesting statistics in the form of Bayliss v Rossi v Schumacher.


The first table below shows the most important stats for each competitor, with the second listing their achievements as a percentage. Rossi's stats are for 500cc/MotoGP only (does not include his 125 or 250 seasons and championships):

  races wins podiums poles titles *
Troy Balyiss 150 50 92 25 3
Valentino Rossi 148 70 113 41 6
Michael Schumacher 248 91 154 68 7

    wins podiums poles titles *
Troy Balyiss   33.3% 61.3% 16.7% 60.0%
Valentino Rossi   47.3% 76.4% 27.7% 66.7%
Michael Schumacher   36.7% 62.1% 27.4% 50.0%

* only full racing seasons were included for the title percentage (Bayliss missed three rounds of the 2000 season, whilst Schumacher missed part of both the 1991 and 1999 seasons).

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Early Start

I have been able to get hold of some of the course text (blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6), in electronic form, for M366 and even though the course does not start until Feb.09 I have decided to make an early start on it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Some People Will Eat Anything

I promised him a squirrel sandwich and that is what he's gonna get after school. You've heard of tuna melts or patty melts, well why not squirrel melts.

WARNING!!!  Fluffy creatures were harmed during the making of this video.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The New Donington ?

Donington race circuit has won the contract to host the British round of Formula 1 as from 2010, whilst hopefully still hosting the MotoGP (Silverstone is so flat and boring).  Donington will require a lot of modernisation and as part of this the track is being redesigned.  Below are links to an article and a plan of the proposed new circuit.

Article and new circuit.

M450: That was quick

As previously mentioned I posted my ECA on Monday (8th Sept) at about 3:00pm, and I have just checked my StudentHome page and it is saying that my ECA has been received by the OU.  The wonders of modern snail-mail.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

M366: Registered

This afternoon I registered for M366 - Natural and artificial intelligence, and have already started to search the net for useful information.  Apparently we use an application called NetLogo during the course, and I have found the home page here.

M450: Finished !!!

I finally submitted my ECA for M450 yesterday.  Three copies printed, bound (Staples did a very good job, £9 less £3 discount) and posted (First class £4.30), plus not forgetting to obtain the proof of posting.

This means for me that the course is now finished and all I have to do is wait for the result, which apparently can take some time.

Over the next few weeks I am going to try and put together some advice on how to tackle M450 for those students thinking of taking it in the future, especially as it is not the easiest of courses.

Now I have to register for my next course, M366 - Natural and artificial intelligence, even though (having done a quick search via Google) it seems that it might not be the easiest of courses.  This will hopefully be the last course of my degree.

Monday, August 04, 2008

MU120: Final Result

I have just got my final result for MU120, a PASS with an overall continuous assessment score of 94%.  This means that if I were to stop my OU studies now I have qualified for a BSc(Open) degree, but I am not as I only have a year and a bit to go before getting the computing named degree.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Eurosport Loses MotoGP Coverage From 2009

Yesterday (26.Jun.08) Dorna announced

that coverage of the MotoGP World Championships will no longer be available on Eurosport from the 2009 season

The BBC will have exclusive coverage of MotoGP in the UK and this is very disappointing news for the following reasons:

  1. Currently the BBC only shows the MotoGP race on terrestrial TV (BBC2).  The 125 and 250 races are only shown on the BBC's BBCi service;
  2. In the past some races have not been shown live;
  3. The BBC does not show qualifying all the time, and when it does it is only available via BBCi;
  4. Unlike Eurosport, the BBC does not show any of the free practice sessions or the qualifying sessions for the 125's and 250's;
  5. From 2009 the BBC will also be showing F1, thus if a race clashes with a MotoGP then the F1 race is probably going to get preference;
  6. If the BBC increases it's MotoGP coverage then more than likely it will only be via BBCi.  The Problem is that you are not able to record BBCi on a SKY+ box.

Dorna have said that their reason for taking this action is to try and increase MotoGP coverage across Europe by giving priority to free-to-air television networks, but by taking this action they will actually be decreasing the coverage available to UK MotoGP fans.

If you are a MotoGP fan and want to petition Dorna against this action that they have taken then you might find the following e-mail address's useful:

Dorna UK :- Tony Partis -
Licensing :- Phaedra Haramis -
TV Production :- Sergi Sendra -

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

OU: TMA Results

Last week I got the result back for my MU120 TMA03, 95%, and yesterday I got the result for M450 TMA02, 86%.  Although I did better for M450 TMA02 than TMA01 I am still finding the research aspect of the project most frustrating.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blake's 7 poised for Sky comeback

The BBC has reported:

A new remake of sci-fi series Blake's 7 could soon return to television screens, Sky One has revealed. 

The satellite channel has given the green light for the development of two 60-minute scripts for a "potential event series".


"The time is ripe for a revival of a show that represents the best traditions of the genre, not to mention one of the best-loved and most successful dramas of all time," Elaine Pyke, commissioning editor for drama at Sky One, Two and Three, said.

ref:  BBC News

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

M450: TMA02

Well I have finally submitted TMA02 for M450, 1 week after cut-off.  This is the first time in all my OU studies that I have had to have an extension.  The cause of the problem is the research we have to do for this course, it is proving difficult, frustrating and demoralizing.  The course text does not go into any detail as to why we are having to do the research and what we should be looking for.  Still at least I can now press on with the core elements of my project.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MU120: Finished!

Last night I had a tutorial and was able to hand my completed TMA04 over to my tutor, just under 3 months ahead of the course schedule.  This means that I have finally finished MU120 and I can now fully concentrate on M450.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Phorm - Family friendly?

Over the last week there has been a lot of talk about Phorm.

A system that matches users' web surfing habits to adverts must ensure sensitive sites are black-listed from tracking, a privacy report has said.

Phorm's online technology is set to be rolled out by three of the UK's biggest ISPs, BT, Virgin and Talk Talk.

ref: BBC News

Even Sir Tim Berners-Lee has concerns about it.

The creator of the web has said consumers need to be protected against systems which can track their activity on the internet.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he would change his Internet provider if it introduced such a system.

ref:  BBC News

Now I am wondering if such a system is family friendly.  What I mean by this is that my home PC / Internet connection is used by the whole family, and I visit sites, such as adult humour, that I do not allow my daughter to go to, for example  So if my ISP was to implement Phorm could it distinguish between different users going over the same Internet connection.  Would my daughter start to see adverts relating to my surfing habits?  Like any responsible parent I monitor and guide my daughter on what she watches on television and what she sees on the Internet, yet it appears to me that an ISP using  Phorm could well take some of this control away from me.

Off to travel the stars

British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.


ref: BBC News

Thursday, March 13, 2008

CMAs and TMAs

On Tuesday I got the results back for my MU120 CMA43.  I got a very pleasing 96% and lost a couple of marks due to silly mistakes.  These mistakes I believe are due to the nature of CMA's in that being multiple choice I tend to go through them a lot quicker than I would a TMA thus resulting in not studying a question as thoroughly as perhaps I should.

Yesterday morning I got the results for my first TMA for M450.  Even though I got 80% I was disappointed in my tutor's comments, in that they were very brief and in some instances cryptic.  This left me feeling frustrated and confused, but after a lengthy telephone conversation with him last night I feel a lot better.  He enlightened me to what he actually meant, thus I now understand where my TMA was lacking and how it could have been improved.  I now realise that one of my biggest problems with my project is that I have had tunnel vision, in that I knew what the problem was (difficulty in sending bank statements) and how I wanted to solve it.  This has meant that when I was looking for research I was basing my investigation on the solution rather than the problem and finding alternative solutions to it.  In fact I now appreciate that my whole project is based around my solution, even it's title "Automated archiving and electronic transmission (via SMTP) of customer bank statements", as opposed to describing the problem, followed by looking for any solutions, discussing their strengthens and weaknesses, and then selecting a viable one.  With this in mind I now feel more confident that for my next TMA I should be able to produce a superior paper.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

MU120: All that is remaining...

All that I have remaining for MU120 if TMA04 as I have just submitted CMA45.  It took a bit longer to complete than the other CMA's as it went through the whole course and on a number of occasions I had to refer back to my notes.  Rather annoyed with myself though, as after submitting the CMA I had a look at my submitted answers and realised that I have done a typo on one of the them.  It's a shame that submitted CMA's cannot be amended.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Knight Rider

Testing is currently underway at the Losail Circuit Qatar in preparation for the first MotoGP race of the 2008 season.

The March 9 race will be the first Grand Prix, two or four wheeled, to be held at night when it starts at 23:00 local (20:00GMT). Formula One will hold a night race in Singapore in September.

MotoGP organisers have said their race would be the biggest sporting event to be staged under floodlights with the area involved at Losail equivalent to 70 FIFA regulation soccer pitches, with 3,500 lighting units installed.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

MU120: CMA44

Having put MU120 on hold for a month (except for attending my local tutorials) due to starting M450 and completing the first TMA, I can now go back to it.  I have outstanding 2 CMA's and the ECA.  With this in mind I ploughed through and submitted CMA44 this afternoon.  It was not so bad although I did have to refer back to my notes on a couple of occasions.  The biggest problem was remembering where all the relevant functions are in the calculator.  Now onto CMA45.

Bradley Smith Interview

MCN caught up with Polaris World Aprilia rider Bradley Smith at the teams official launch in London yesterday.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

M450: TMA01

Last night I finally managed to submit my first TMA for M450, 5 hours before cut-off.  The course started on February 2nd and it has been a long hard slog during these past 24 days to get the TMA completed, even though the course team say in the assessment guide

completing each TMA could take as little as five or six hours

There are 2 reasons for this TMA taking so long, the first being that I dived straight into the TMA and although I have started tasks such as a project schedule and an E-R model, I did them as part of the TMA.  The second reason is that I have experienced a lot of difficulty in finding any research papers in relation to my project.  This become a frustrating exercise and started to make finishing the TMA feel tedious.  And I don't believe that I am alone in these sentiments.

Anyway I can now get down to some real practical work, starting with the statement of requirements, and the database analysis and design.  With this in mind hopefully TMA02 wont take so long to complete when I come around to doing it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Vote for Dustin

This Saturday the Irish decided on their entry for this years Eurovision Song Contest and the winner was Dustin The Turkey singing Douze Pointe. 

Dustin The Turkey

It reminds me of the episode of Father Ted where Father's Ted and Dougal are Irelands entry for the annual European contest with their song My Lovely Horse.  The Irish don't want to winner the contest anymore as it is proving to expensive to host, so they pick the one song that is guaranteed to loose.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

MU120: TMA02

Got home last night to find my marked TMA02 had been delivered.  This came as a surprise as having handed in the TMA about a month and a half before the deadline, I had completely forgotten about it.  The surprise was made very pleasant when I discovered that I had scored 98%.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

MU120: On Hold.

Having read all 16 units and now only having CMA44, CMA45 and TMA04 left to do I have decided to put MU120 on hold.  My reason for this is that M450 officially started on Saturday (02.Feb) and its first TMA is due on 26.Feb.  I therefore want to concentrate on the M450 TMA01 and will resume MU120 after 26.Feb.

Friday, January 25, 2008

M450: A slight change of direction

Having been allocated my tutor I e-mailed him yesterday with a description of my proposed project and saying that the scope would be the back-end process and database.

In his reply to me he said...

it might be prudent to plan the whole and implement a prototype

I have always appreciated that for the project you don't need to produce a fully working system, even though it has been my intention to do so as it will be used by my employer on a daily basis.  Therefore I now potentially have a conflict of interest between what I need to do for my project and what my employer requires, with regards to time.  It's going to be interesting to see if I can keep both parties happy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

M450: A bit chewy?

Although I have not yet started looking through the course materials, I have had for some time an idea as to what to do for my project.

I plan to develop a system for the "archiving and electronic transmission (via SMTP) of statements" for the bank that I work for.

This system will comprise of 2 areas:

1.  A database and a back-end module to import the raw statement data into the database, plus identify those statements that need to be transmitted.

2.  A front-end client module which will allow users to:
2.a.  Release those statements ready for transmission;
2.b.  Select, display, and re-transmit selected statements upon request;
2.c.  Update customer control data (i.e. e-mail address).

There are a number of different areas that I will have to investigate, such as the connection between Java and MS SQL Server, as although I know that this is possible, it is not something that I have done in the past.

Now I am in the fortunate position that I can work on this full time, yet I am starting to wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew, time wise.  Normally I would say that it is possible, but I get the impression from some of the postings in FirstClass that how the OU want us to approach the project and how we would actually do it in real life does differ.  Plus a quick search (via Google) threw up the following:

About 40 per cent of the work develops and assesses skills for project scoping and specification, self-monitoring of progress and presentation. The remaining 60 per cent concerns the technical detail of the project and is project specific. Course materials will be made available online. Students are expected to retain the material associated with the courses on which they build for their project.

Students will develop a project topic, specification and plan, carry it out, and then write it up. A tutor will advise and guide students, but they will be expected to produce their work independently, without close supervision. They must also keep a project log and use it for an assessed critical review of their work. The emphasis is on students being reflective practitioners, developing not only the technical aspects of their project but also reviewing and thinking about what they have learnt from doing the work, to further improve their skills. Tutor-marked assignments provide milestones and feedback to help them monitor their progress. Guidance notes, study calendar and other supporting material will be made available on the web.


I am therefore wondering whether I should just concentrate on the first area (the database and back-end module) as opposed to the whole system, and complete the second area in my own time.  I think I will have to consult with my tutor once I know who he / she is.