Saturday, 16 December 2006

M253 - Milestone 1 - The Result

So the marks are back, and I have to say I am a little disappointed.
Despite dropping only 4 marks on the individual part of the assessment we only managed to scrape two thirds of the marks on the team-generated stuff.

As I feel that the team-generated stuff was the work of just two people anyway (and this was reflected in the mark awarded for team-work) it strikes me that our hard work hasn't been rewarded, and that some of the others have managed to get a passing mark for this assignment without really having done a lot to do so.

I feel that this is the worst case of 'grade entitlement' - and that people who registered for the course, and keep their interaction to a minimum, still manage to pass.

I don't suppose their is a great deal I can do about it - but it is quite frustrating.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

MU120 - Course Result

Well it is official - the second course I have taken with the Open University is now complete, and I have passed comfortably (93 %). It is nice to have closure (8 weeks after the course officially finished) and thirty more points in the bag towards my BSc in Computing.

Although this means I have technically fulfilled all of the Level 1 requirements, I am still looking forwards to completing MST 121 as I think that this will give me a sound refresher course in Mathematics which will stand me in good stead for the remainder of the course.

I have also decided that I will register for a course M255 beginning in February next year, based on the progress I am making with MST 121 - it is amazing what can come back to you from A-Level Maths 12 years after it was taken!

The foot saga

Fortunately Bracken's foot is healing quite well - although she is being a monster with taking her pills. Other than the bright orange bandage, and an overprotective sister, it is nice to see she is making progress from something which turned out to be more serious than we at first thought....

M253 - Milestone 2

Having had a few minutes to look at the requirements for Milestone 2 for this course I have come to the conclusion that it focuses a great deal more on team-work than Milestone 1 did.

That might seem like an unusual statement for a course designed to assess how people work in teams, but the Milestone 1 requirements meant that a lot of people could 'hide' if they wanted to - in Milestone 2 people are required to participate in a more defined manner.

It also seems like a fairly intense workload as there is a lot of work to do during the lifetime of the course. This is unusual as it flies in the face of the Open University mantra regarding flexibility - meaning that should any member of the team be unable to participate fully the consequences to the others could be quite significant.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out - it is going to take a lot of discipline....

Friday, 8 December 2006

Poorly Foot

My Lady Bracken (a.k.a. Bootsie) - the black spaniel on the right - has managed to develop a foot abcess, and is under the knife being drained this afternoon. She really does get herself into some terrible scrapes - but hopefully if there is anything in there the vet will find it and removed it and after a course of antibiotics and some rest and relaxation she will be as right as rain.

The dilemma now is do we put her into the kennels and go to Norfolk this evening - as we had originally planned for this weekend - or do we stay at home and lavish fussy cuddles on her? Will see what the vet says when she is done.

M263 - TMA 01 Results A Pleasant Surprise

I received the result for my TMA today - and did a lot better than I thought I might. At first glance there was a lot of 'red pen' on the assignment - but I have to say that this was the most constructive feedback I have had and feel that I can really learn from the comments.

I hope that I can continue in the same vein for TMA 2 but feel my confidence growing now that I have had feedback on my first steps into programming proper.


Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Myers - Briggs Personality

As part of M253 it is interesting to know what type of personality I tend towards. As such I did the online Myers-Briggs test to see. The results are below

"Field Marshall". The basic driving force and need is to lead. Tend to seek a position of responsibility and enjoys being an executive. 1.8% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

Guess my worst fears are confirmed - I am simply that bossy!

Friday, 1 December 2006

M253 - Submitted

Submitted TMA 1 for this course today - I am very relieved it is out of the way and I can spend the next two weeks reading around the resource sheets for the next part of this course.

The level of participation in the group over the last couple of weeks has not been high - perhaps this is because the reality of the looming deadline has hit home. Oh well, best not to dwell- I can't make people participate.

The next OU decision to make is whether or not to sign up for a course beginning in February. With M253 finishing in March, and having seen a lot of information from MST 121 already at A-Level Maths, it would only mean I would have M263 to really study for. It would also mean that I am progressing towards completion of the degree - which after all is my ultimate goal - at a reasonable pace.

I have until the 15th December to make that decision. At the moment I am thinking it might be worth the stress of having 4 courses running at the same time, if it means getting to my goal as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

M253 - Near Completion?

Okay, so the deadline for M253 TMA 1 isn't officially until Monday 4th December - BUT - I have friends to visit this weekend which means that I am going to have to submit by tomorrow evening at the latest . I have a document that I am happy with, but am concerned that the team documents will change between now and Monday. If that should happen then it would mean that the portion of my TMA that has been generated for the team response would be different to everyone elses, and I am not sure if that would mean that I am penalised - or that the team is.
Hopefully I am worrying over nothing.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006


I am so excited
The news has come through that the carpets are going to be installed in the house on Wednesday of next week!
This means that we will have a modicum of civilisation in time for Christmas.
This has made my day!

La Belle France

In an effort to get away from the nightmare that is commercial Christmas I spent Monday in Lille.

It really is a beautiful city and I had the opportunity to catch up with the wonderful Pascal (a friend of mine who is an actor and has recently starred opposite both Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno) and enjoy a typical 3-hour French lunch. The city always has a Ferris wheel at Christmas time which is illuminated by thousands of fairly lights when the sun sets. It also has a cultural celebration theme in the month leading up to Christmas, and this year it is all things Indian - hence the bejewelled spectacular statues of elephants adorning the boulevards. It really did put the Christmas lights here in Cambridge to shame....

Also the French seem to have a more laid-back attitude to Christmas than us Brits. Whilst I was being elbowed out of the way by a 'sweet little old lady' so she could get at the Lambrusco at Tesco Bar Hill this lunch time I found myself yearning for the wide alleys and patient musings of the French when shopping at le supermarche Auchan. I love Christmas - but all this shopping lark is a mystery to me!

Deadline Blues - M253

Why is it that courses are designed so that all of the deadlines come at once?
Having submitted my TMA for M263 last week I had to worry about M253 this week.

What has worried me most about M253 is the fact that it is all team-based, and that my team seem to be quite good at procrastination and/or letting other people do the work. I know that it isn't the best course in the world BUT if you are going to do something perhaps you should put some effort in - even if it isn't the programming stuff that you are really interested in. Heck, I know that it drives me crazy, but I think that people who program computers should also learn to communicate with those who don't - and am pretty sure that this is what the course is aimed at.

I can honestly say that if it wasn't for me and a girl in the group that we would have failed to meet our deliverables for this assignment - I am also really tee'd off that the other six members of the group are going to earn a large portion of their grade based on our hard work.

So anyway, I have completed all of the individual components required from me for the assignment and am awaiting on a group-generated decision for the rest. Having said that, my heart wasn't in the assignment at all - I felt like I was going through the motions - and as such I think the mark will reflect that. What is more worrying is that I am not sure that I care.

Friday, 24 November 2006

MST 121 - TMA 1 Result

Well the first TMA of the course has been marked, and I am very happy with my result. Although I have never met my tutor (yet) his comments and apparent enthusiasm for the subject are infectious - which is a direct contrast to my experience for M150. Hopefully I will be able to maintain the standard I have set for myself in this course and be encouraged by his enthusiasm all the way through to the end.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Picture Perfect

As I am becoming more familiar with this thing I am getting more adventurous :)
You can now see a picture of my babies - 2 and a half year old field spaniels called Lucy (the ginger one) and Bracken (the black one). They are litter mates and sisters and special in every way!

Looming Deadlines

I am currently studying part-time for a degree in Computing with the OU. Having passed M150 last year (and hopefully MU120 this year) I am currently studying 3 courses - MST121 - Using Mathematics (which will complete the level 1 courses that I am required to take for the BSc. (Hons)), M263 Building Blocks of Software and M253 Team Working in Distributed Environments.
Both M253 and M263 have deadlines for TMA 01 of the 4th December.

Although I have completed TMA 01 for M263 (and am working on TMA 02 as we speak) I find the whole rigmarole of M253 very frustrating - mainly because the situations seem to me to be so contrived i.e. we are meant to be designing a computer system that will aid on online travel agency. What really gets to me though is the notion of 'reflective practice' in that once you have arrived at a decision you have to take time to think about how that decision was arrived at, and give evidence - which are mainly from posts to the team conference. Having worked in industry now for seven years I have never once been asked to reflect upon how a decision has been made - is it relevant in the world of work?

I understand the need for a communication skills element to any degree (it was the same with my first degree in Chemistry) but can't help think that there would be a better way of doing this...

Weird dreams

Well I suppose the renovation must be getting to me....
Woke up this morning after having had a strange dream about buying a dilapidated farm from an old woman in South Africa....I have never been to South Africa so I am not sure why that was relevant, but every room she showed me in the cavernous house was half-finished, and she was only willing to sell on the proviso that I was to have no children and pass the farm on to those children who were currently living on it when I died.

To cap it all off she had a network of dog kennels at the back of the house which was filled with puppies of all shapes and sizes. Maybe the renovation is getting to me!

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

An introduction to Blogging

Well I suppose that since I have set this up I had better say hello and thanks for dropping by. Hopefully, given time this will take shape into something which is fairly interesting to read, and if not will give me somewhere to ponder the happenings of my life.

House Renovations

So, my partner and I are renovating a house in Ely which eventually we hope will be a bed and breakfast - this is all whilst I work full-time.... anyway I just had a phonecall to say that the last bathroom (of five) has been finished being installed and that we can move forwards with decorating and getting the carpets in - hopefully before Christmas. It is bizarre to think this is almost complete (having been working on the house since last August as a part-time project) and that the real hard work of getting out of bed on a morning to cook breakfasts before I go to work is due to start in the New Year. Even more strangely is we already have our first full-time guest - a girl I currently work with. She is very good at coping with the work that is going on around her and the two demented field spaniels who attack her every morning.