This week I’ve been sloooowly working through the Sun JDBC tutorial, which I finally finished reading this morning. I did intend to pick up where I left off with Unit 8 of M257 as soon as I’d finished the JDBC stuff, but I got sidetracked by a post on Slashdot about functional programming languages, which led to me deciding that now would be a great time to start learning Haskell.

This is a tactic I sometimes use when I feel reluctant to get back to my official programming studies – I procrastinate by starting to learn the basics of a different language altogether. So far, I’ve done this with Python, Ruby, COBOL and now Haskell. Doesn’t help with my OU schedule, but if anyone needs a Haskell program that does trivially simple arithmetic, I’m your guy!

I’ve also been helping Alex with an experiment he was doing for S104 about light and spectra (my job was mainly to hold the textbook and read out the list of equipment needed). I did feel a bit envious, since it looked like fun, and the spectra were gorgeous:

Our good friend and colleague, Dr Monsterface, helps Alex with his light experiment for S104

Our good friend and colleague, Dr Monsterface, helps Alex with his light experiment for S104

Maybe I’ll make time for a physics course, once I’ve done all the maths and computing ones I’m interested in…

Anyway, this afternoon I put the Haskell tutorial to one side and returned to Unit 8, which is about threads. I’m quite enjoying the topic, it makes quite a change to be taking issues like access to shared system resources into consideration. I did find all the examples involving the hypothetical airline booking system a bit mind-numbing, though (I had the same reaction to the “warehouse problem” section of MT262 – practical exercises which are based on business scenarios give me the heebie-jeebies!).

Nevetheless, I managed to get through the rest of the unit book without procrastinating, and will probably get started on Unit 9 tomorrow. It’s about internet programming, which doesn’t fill me with a great deal of enthusiasm (I anticipate quite a few e-commerce related exercises!), but it’ll be nice to finally get onto the last stretch of the course.

I’m feeling particularly happy to be progressing with M257 because I’ve got tomorrow scheduled as my Day To Register For Next Courses. The deadline for registration is the 17th of December, but I want to get my registration done fairly soon, just in case there are any problems. So by the end of tomorrow I’ll be fairly firmly committed to MS221 and M366, and that intimidates me just a little! Maybe now’s a good time to start learning Ada…

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