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.

Secure Android Development, project preparation, a cold and a new year

It’s been a mixed start to the new year. Watching what I eat for the rest of January, damn you Christmas. Back at work after three weeks off, achieved nothing and left by eleven. My ego got the better of me and I went for a run despite having a cold, so am now suffering. Need to shift it with the first cross country league race on Wednesday. I can’t help wondering why generic medicines are so much cheaper than brand names.

Finally got around to ordering a replacement Acer V3-112P screen. Replacement was straight forward. Like most avionics technicians, I breathed a sigh of relief when the LED panel lit up proving the fault. The old girl is now sitting running a million updates courtesy of Microsoft.

While many Linux advocates eschew Microsoft, I prefer Office (Home Use Program). Like current, I take the path of least resistance and I use Word and Excel so often I know them inside out. Linux is an outstanding development platform, I’m using it for TM470.

TM470 project preparation continues, reviewing both TM353 and TM354. FutureLearn is a fantastic resource with a course on Secure Android Development. Delivered by the University of Southampton, it started last week. I haven’t decided the tool chain yet, particularly versioning. I have used SVN and Bazaar, which I prefer as it integrates well with Launch Pad. I won’t be using LP though so should investigate Mercurial and Git.

Read Original Sin too – best Marvel I’ve read in ages. Like Murder She Wrote in space. A real page turner, I read it in one sitting.

Something that didn’t grip me was the Assassin’s Creed movie. It starts off quite well, with a similar story to the games. It suffers the same problem as earlier games though – the present interrupts more interesting stories in the past. What I don’t get though is why option a game as a property then try not to appeal to that market?

What I haven’t made time for though is the Nintendo Classic Mini. I played a little Ghosts ‘n Goblins – damn I forgot how hard games were then. I always thought as a kid that I’d somehow be better at them as an adult but I guess I didn’t factor in reactions.


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


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.

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


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.


Well I haven’t posted in ages but I’m down to a single TMA and two exams before I start the computing and IT project (TM470).

I’ve got what I think is a sound idea that builds on TT284, M362, TM353 and TM354 so fingers crossed. Its an integrated system developing an Android app, web app and a hardware solution that utilises near field communication (NFC) and is built on a Raspberry Pi B+.

So far my main issue has been getting back on top of Python. I haven’t used it since M269.

Developing concurrent distributed systems (M362)

I’ve just started this Open University module. From the module description’s computing requirements:

If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

I started with the OU in 2008 and it’s good to see things have changed – back then it wouldn’t have mentioned Linux at all.

Joking aside things are changing. Algorithms, data structures and computability (M269), which I’m taking concurrently, has Linux software available with instructions on how to install and configure. I can understand why M362 staff would want specific versions of NetBeans and the JDK installed – the forums are already filling up with questions about various incompatibilities and conflicts and that’s just with Windows.

Fortunately the University has a Dreamspark Premium membership – so I was able to download Windows XP and a license key to install in a VirtualBox instance.

Virtual Box running OU software

I hope we continue to see progress with regards to platform neutrality – I’d like to spend more time learning computer science and mathematics and less time worrying about my choice of operating system.