Thoughts on Web Technologies (TT284)

TT284 Web Technologies is a level two Open University module now in its second year of presentation and compulsory on the solutions development pathway of BSc (Hons) Computing and IT (B62). From the module description:

This course will give you an insight into architectures, protocols, standards, languages, tools and techniques; an understanding of approaches to more dynamic and mobile content; and demonstrate how you can analyse requirements, plan, design, implement and test a range of web applications.

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MS221 was a grade 4 pass. From the breakdown of the MS221 exam, it looks like most were in the same boat, with 79% scoring under 54%. I’m happy with the result (it’s free choice on my degree path) but it was a valuable examination experience.

I did several past papers (I downloaded eight) but did not concentrate on time management. Looking at the exam breakdown, it’s clear that I was strong on blocks one and two (mathematical exploration and iteration), less so on block three (continuous models) and weak on block four (structure in mathematics). The exam is in two sections – the first had three questions on each section and the second just one on each. The paper and most of the tutors advise doing as much of the first part as possible. A better strategy for me would have been to do the block one and two questions in both parts of the paper then doing the block three and four questions in part one and finally in part two.

Well you live and learn. I enjoyed MS221 and would recommend it. For now this is the end of my study of mathematics, unless I do a second degree in the future.

MT264 held no surprises and I’m happy with a grade 2 pass. My biggest issue was life getting in the way – I skipped the final TMA when I had to deploy overseas at short notice.

TT284 starts at the end of January and I’m on leave from the end of next week. I’m only registered on the one module just now because I’m doing French language training for work (they need French speakers, the course is free and learning a language is on my bucket list).

I hope the OU continues to use IP-City Centre as an examination venue. Until recently exams were in Colchester, where unless you want to be three hours early parking is ridiculously expensive. The new venue has better facilities and free parking plus its only a fifteen minute drive.

MT264 Exam

I did the MT264 exam yesterday. I should have sat it two months ago but deferred the date as I was “unavoidably sent to another country at short notice”.

The exam was damn near identical to the past papers I’d done – even the order of the questions was the same. Part one (64%) covered everything taught and part two (36%) went into a little more depth – with questions on OOP, text handling and databases. I went straight through the from question one to eleven. As you only needed to do two of the last three I didn’t attempt question twelve.

As is often the case with exams, some of the questions were ambiguous. I didn’t care for the naming convention of the subclass properties in question eleven – that confused me.

Anyway, one down and one to go – MS221 tomorrow.

Windows XP SP3 in Virtual Box

This post is more to jog my memory than anything else but as I mentioned in an earlier post the OU’s MCT department has a Microsoft DreamSpark Academic subscription.

Most modules requires some software. There are most always issues with Windows 7 or Linux and there are often licensing issues – Mathcad for example is only valid for the duration of the module.

So I use a virtual machine (VirtualBox) running Windows XP.

  • Create a new machine and install Windows XP.
  • Back up the machine to removable media.
  • Clone the machine for each module and install the relevant OU software.
  • Destroy the machine when the module is complete.

The version of Windows XP Professional on DreamSpark doesn’t have any Service Pack installed (there are three for Windows XP). Installing SP3 requires SP2, you can get all three from Microsoft.

Small steps

Back in October I started to develop some serious shin pain and began the Army’s rehabilitation process. A better process than people give credit for – put in effort, take it seriously and it has results. It just takes time. Today I got upgraded to a run/walk program – as long as I remain pain free I could be running in three weeks. I’ve missed doing a few miles after work.

Speaking of small steps, that’s how MS221 TMA 2 feels. I enjoyed Chapter B3 (eigenvalues) but there’s only one question on it. Iteration is half the paper! I’ve still to catch up with block C!

MT264 TMA 3 is due at the start of March – so I think I’ve another week where I’ve time only to train, study and sleep.

Thankfully I’m a couple of weeks ahead on TT284. I’ve kept off the PlayStation but MW3’s first map pack is out at the end of the month.

MT254 TMA 01

First TMA on MT264 (Designing applications with Visual Basic) got returned today – 96%. I’m very pleased with that and exceptionally lucky given that I read the material in a week, attended one on-line tutorial and wrote the assessment in a couple of days.

I’ve seen complaints on the module forum that tutors aren’t getting assessments back to quickly enough. The cut off was the 15th (I submitted on the 13th) and it was returned on the 27th, I don’t really see what the problem is.

Nested selection reared its head again but I didn’t lose any marks for it. In every programming module I’ve been picked up for using Else If so I played it safe and used nested If statements. So I was advised to use Else If proving I can’t win!


Samsung NP-RV511-S02UK

I bought a new laptop the other week, a Samsung NP-RV511-S02UK. I have been using a Samsung NC10 dual booting Ubuntu and XP. An NC10 is a wondrous thing but when push comes to shove, a 1280×600 resolution is too small for Visual Studio work – especially when you want to see a PDF at the same time.

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