Archive for October, 2008


I spent a good part of Saturday and Sunday struggling with Questions 2 and 3 of TMA01, because the code I’d written for the Guesser and Coder classes just would not produce the correct output, no matter what I did. I was mystified, because not only was the code producing inappropriate output – which obviously could have been due to my poor programming – it was producing output that didn’t seem to reflect any of the changes I’d made to the code.

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Course-envy

I’m really quite envious of all the work Alex is doing for S104. It’s a 60-point course, so he’s doing about three times the amount of studying I’m doing for M257, which is unfortunately a rather slender 20-points. We’ve got into a rhythm where if I’m studying, he feels like studying, and when he’s studying I feel like studying, which is a bit impractical when one of you is limping along on 20pts of Level 2. The OU offer a lot of advice about what and how to study, but sometimes I wish they provided advice about how to cope with not studying.

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One of my favourite aspects of this course so far is the separation of practical activities from the reading and note-taking bits. I think it’s probably better to do the practical activities on the same day as the related reading, or thereabouts, but it’s nice to have the option of doing all the practical work in one big session. I really like the format of the exercises, too; the instructions are set out in html files packaged together with the code files you have to work on, but for most of the activities I’ve done so far, the gist of the instructions is also included as comments in the code itself, so you don’t have to do much tabbing back and forth between NetBeans and your browser.

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…and I’ve hit my first brick wall, courtesy of TMA01 Q1(d). Of course I’m not at liberty to divulge exactly what the question is that has me banging my head against my laptop, but suffice to say that it’s an “explain…” question rather than a programming question, and my problems with it are probably due to me not understanding the nuances of the wording. I’ll give it a week to simmer in the back of my mind, and if I haven’t had a eureka moment by next weekend I’ll email my tutor and see if he can give me a nudge in the right direction.

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Back to Java

M257 - Putting Java to work

I read Unit 1 of M257 last week, but didn’t have the chance to do the practical exercises for it until today, so I’m counting today as my official return to the land of Java. I’m very happy to be studying a Java-based course again, particularly since it allows several things that were either not valid in C++ or just not MT262 “course style”, e.g:

  • Declaring and initialising a variable on a single line.
  • Using the ++ operator.
  • Using lower-case letters for the start of variable identifiers.

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I did the MT262 exam this afternoon, so today my official C++ studies have drawn to a close. I will miss the course, even with its emphasis on formal design, but I have to say I’m really looking forward to getting back to Java with M257.

The exam itself was quite straightforward, at least compared to the 2006 and 2007 past papers. I only had to consult the handbook once (for a question about writing/reading from files -always a weak spot with me, even in Java!), and thankfully I wasn’t required to sketch any GUI diagrams! Though I did bring a pencil and ruler just in case.

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I finished the 2007 past paper for MT262 yesterday, and was pretty pleased overall with my performance. I even remembered to use the modulus technique for cycling through values (I’m probably a bit over-zealous now in looking for opportunities to use it, if anything). So it turns out that I won’t need a “%” tattoo after all!

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Alright, not really a marathon – more like a couple of long leisurely walks. But I have spent some time away from MT262 over the last week, due to preparing for a job interview and generally being tired out by work, so I’ve set aside a big chunk of time this weekend for getting back to C++ revision.

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