Where to start

Like many students I imagine, I’d no idea where to start with my final project. Having read the preparatory material I had some idea of what was expected but didn’t understand how to write a proposal.

The book How to Write Dissertations & Project Reports (McMillan and Weyers) has been invaluable. While the first tutor marked assessment is the proposal itself, I needed somewhere to start and the chapter on writing a proposal is clear and concise.

Student deregistration

An oversubscribed TM470 has seen the Open University de-register students. It seems the University was unable to recruit enough tutors. I was fortunate to secure a place but can only imagine the frustration of those who didn’t.

I would make an educated guess that there are two reasons for the increased volume. First the introduction of tuition fees. Five years after their introduction, transitional arrangements end this year. Second, B62 degree is being removed (of which this is a compulsory module). I would have thought extending this degree for a further year would be a solution.

This doesn’t show the University in its best light.

Feedback

I got an email from the TM470 Chair this evening:

I would like to remind you that in order for us to allocate you a tutor you need to complete the Project Registration Form, a link to which can be found on the TM470 Study Planner.  This project registration form needs to be completed asap.

I did this weeks ago, so I figured this is a generic email. In turn it seems to have caused a minor outcry in the project preparation forum. But if you look at the bottom of the registration form:

“Feedback” is a concept the relates to visibility, it makes clear what was achieved (M150 Block 3 Unit 12, page 20). Funny how the university doesn’t always take its own advice.

It has reminded me to revisit design principles though.

 

[Insert project title here]

An Android fitness tracker application. Feedback from the preparation forum was positive, there is enough scope to expand or contract the project as needed. Importantly, it is “substantially within the sphere of information technology”.

Taking approaches from IT Systems Planning for Success (TM353) and an Agile approach from Software Engineering (TM354) meets the requirements. There is a substantial part of the application that needs synchronise with a server, utilising another level 3 module Developing Concurrent Distributed Systems (M362).

What I haven’t decided is the title!

Install Android Studio on Ubuntu

Ubuntu

Android Studio is a great development environment and is available on Ubuntu. I’m using Ubuntu Mate 16.10 “Yakkety Yak”.
 
First install a Java Development Kit (JDK). OpenJDK is pre-installed or you can use Oracle Java 8 (there is a great guide here). I don’t wish to argue over your choice – I need to use the latter (my tutor does). Download Android Studio here. – I extracted it to /opt; ran the installer; and used my home folder for the SDK. If you are using 64 bit, you need the 32 bit GNU standard C++ library:
sudo apt install lib32stdc++6

For Arch you need to enable “multilib” repository:

<code><span class="pln">sudo pacman </span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="typ">Syu</span> <span class="pun">&amp;&amp;</span><span class="pln"> sudo pacman </span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="pln">S multilib</span><span class="pun">/</span><span class="pln">lib32</span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="pln">libstdc</span><span class="pun">++</span><span class="lit">5</span><span class="pln"> multilib</span><span class="pun">/</span><span class="pln">lib32</span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="pln">zlib</span></code>

Virtualisation support is interesting. I read two tutorial and Google’s guide. The former makes reference to command line options not in version 2.2.2. These posts suggest this is a bug, but it may now be default behaviour. First enable that virtualisation in BIOS (check if enabled using “kvm-ok”).

sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin ubuntu-vm-builder bridge-utils
sudo adduser dougie kvm
sudo adduser dougie libvirtd

This results in an error.
screenshot-at-2016-11-25-21-16-19

Using the system version of libstdc++.so.6 works. Add the following to /etc/environment:

ANDROID_EMULATOR_USE_SYSTEM_LIBS=1

It seems snappy but with no feedback I’m unsure if accelerated.

So I now have a development environment set up for my project. The next hurdle is to choose a title. So far it is a: development project; distributed application; and uses Android.

TM470

After a false start when The Open University opened the TM470 module site, we got back on track on Wednesday. Although the module doesn’t start until February, I need to decide a project to assign a tutor.
 
I read the study guide and project choice pages. Self development is key, by being a reflective practitioner.
 
My project can be research, development or evaluation. It should develop knowledge acquired at level three, where I took:
  • Developing Concurrent Distributed Systems (M362),
  • IT Systems Planning for Success (TM353) and
  • Software Engineering (TM354).
I also want to use:
  • Algorithms Data Structures and Computability (M269) as I enjoyed the subject and
  • Web Technologies (TT284) as I enjoyed mobile application development and gained a distinction.
Developing a mobile application with a software engineering approach makes sense. There are techniques and approaches from TM353 that help. For TT284 I used MIT’s AppInventor but would like to use Google’s Android Studio. I worked through the tutorials and it offers a comprehensive suite of tools and runs on Ubuntu.
 
The trick is to be find an achievable solution to a defined problem. I have ideas but have lots of research ahead of me. I am writing down ideas in a notebook as I get them and aim to decide in the next few weeks.
 
Throughout I am going to blog, more for myself than anything else. I’ve noticed students reaching out for support on Twitter. While being careful about plagiarism, thought’s trigger conversations we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Exam time again!

I did the TM353 and TM354 exams this week. The former was a nightmare memory test of trivia and the latter a lot clearer.

TM353 is typical of a number of exams I have sat with the Open University – it’s as if the exam was an afterthought. In all honesty the module can be more accurately assessed using continuos assessment (which it already has). This sort of exam isn’t testing understanding or further reading – simply the ability to memorize small details. As anyone who knows me knows – my memory is bordering on hilarious.

TM354 was much better in what it was testing but again, asks the question why not rely on continuous assessment? Am I likely to remember OCL syntax this time next year? Of course not but I’ll be able to look it up.

Anyway, hopefully I did OK and I’m just left with the Computing and IT  Project (TM470). That starts in January and until then I plan on training BJJ, running, reading and watching a bunch of Netflix!