The Midlife Geek

Ramblings of a middle aged engineer, runner and open source enthusiast

Category: Open University (page 1 of 5)

I’ve been a student at the Open University since 2008. I’ve studied mathematics, computing and psychology. I’ve moderated forums and been a student association member. Finished with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in Computing and IT in 2017.

Starting with Data, computing and information (M150), a very general introduction to computing which I later needed to augment with Networked living: exploring information and communication technologies (T175). I took Using Mathematics (MST121). A subject I never really got at school, this sparked my interest in mathematics, so I took the optional level two module Exploring Mathematics (MS221).

Following the software development pathway at level 2: Designing applications with Object-oriented programming with Java (M255); Visual Basic (MT264); Web technologies (TT284); and Algorithms, data structures & computability (M269).

On to level 3: Developing concurrent distributed systems (M362); Success and Failure in IT Projects (TM353); and Software Engineering (TM354). For Computing and IT project (TM470) I developed an Android fitness app.

Masters degree

With a bachelors completed, a sense of “what now” quickly settles in and a masters degree is a logical next step. After graduation, the Open University (OU) was quick to respond to tweets:

Masters degree

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Graduation Ceremony

I attended the University’s Graduation Ceremony at Ely Cathedral yesterday. If theres one thing that the UK loves, it’s a ceremony.

Me standing infront of the cathedralIt was very well organised and planned. Free parking wth a shuttle bus to the Cathedral, clear direction to registration, robing and photography. There were a lot of nervous graduates but there needn’t have been. Ushers sent each row of graduates up along the side, where out of sight lists were checked and someone straightened our robes.

I think there’s probably more value in these things for family than for the graduates themselves but I enjoyed the day.

Not sure where to go from here. I enjoy studying – masters seems logical but I don’t have the interest I once did in Computing. I’ve looked at the Open Masters but would need to focus on science and the choice seems a little narrow. I guess I’ll figure it out.

Graduation and the future

Booked a graduation ceremony at last. Trying to find a suitable location, that fits in around work and family is a bit of a Travelling Salesman Problem.

I’m still not sure where to go next.

My current contract employs me until the end of 2021. Looking at an MSc with the OU, the Information Security and Forensics specialism looks fascinating and will no doubt continue to be an important area of the industry. To complete the qualification by 2021, I would need to register on Digital Forensics (M812) to start in May.

That means I could have started an MSc before my BSc graduation ceremony!

Finished!

The torturous wait for TM470 results and the associated degree classification is finally over. BSc (Hons) in Computing and Information Technology with upper second-class honours!

Glad it’s over, happy with the result. No idea what I’m doing next.

What a weight off my shoulders!

 

I haven’t posted in a long time. I’ve been busy with the final part of my Open University studies – TM470 (The Computing and IT Project). But I submitted it in the early hours of this morning!

My project was an Android application, the development of which I have enjoyed. Over the next few months I intend to develop another application and post here on the process.

Final push

TM470 Tutor Marked Assessment results are out. With 73, 75 and 81% there is weighting to consider – 5% for the first and 10% for the others. That gives a total score of 19.25%. The pass mark is 40%, with at least that much in the End of Module Assessment.
 
I’m also in a funny position. Given my scores on other modules no matter the result of this module (assuming I pass), then I get a 2:1. There’s another thing – I’ve taken this qualification over about eight years. That rules out British Computer Society accreditation as that requires qualification over six.
 
So I can’t say that I have the best motivation – I want it over. There are a pile of books, games, movies and TV shows waiting. I’m tired of planning my life around study. It feels like a chore now.
 
Learning is something to enjoy – studying is not.

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.

Tutor allocation

The university allocated my tutor this weekend. Seems quite real now – going to be busy for the next six months!

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.

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