Applying for Masters Degrees

This would be a silly reason to do a masters degree

I’ve spent much of tonight reading about myself, which has been kind of strange. No, surprisingly enough its not been some sort of ego-boosting session, but has instead been about rediscovering information about myself to put into my applications for masters degrees.

In the second semester of last year, over dinner, a few of my friends and I were discussing what we wanted to do in the future. What I want to do is continue with the academic route which I am on, doing a masters degree and then hopefully moving on to PhD.

At the moment I am enrolled on a Masters of Engineering course, which is what is referred as an Undergraduate masters. This means that rather than getting a Bachelors degree after three years, then doing a seperate year to get a Masters degree, I skip the Bachelors step entirely and come out of the 4 years with just an MEng. To sum it up in another way rather than have the post-nominal letters (letters after my name) “BSc(Hons), MSc”, I would simply have “MEng”.

Having learned that some academic institutions and employers prefer a potential student or employee to have gone through the traditional route of a bachelors followed by a masters, I thought I would look into the possibility of changing to do this myself. One option is to do a BSc and then an MSc at my current university, Hull, but I thought that I might as well look elsewhere too. Why not? 🙂

So over the next few weeks I expect to be very busy researching academic institutions, writing up research proposals and filling in online application forms. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and of course I’ll let you know right here on the blog!


Computer Science Conferences Microsoft Student Partner

Campus Party : Europe in London

Last week I was fortunate enough to be with some of my fellow Microsoft Student Partners, some Windows Ambassadors, some Microsoft Interns and some Microsoft Employees at Campus Party Europe, an event which was described by the BBC as ‘Glastonbury for geeks’.

I would say this was fairly accurate, except there was less mud! Like Glastonbury there were several stages, a whole host of interesting people to meet, and tents!

Working on the Microsoft Stand

Tuesday through to Friday I worked for 6 hours a day on the Microsoft Stand. It was really good fun! Our job was to talk to people about Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface and the Xbox One and endeavour to answer any questions they had about either the software or hardware. As well as that we tried to get as many people as possible to take our surveys, in return each participant got a surprisingly stylish pair of Windows 8 Branded Sunglasses and a glow stick!

I was also fortunate enough to have Academic Audience Lead Phil Cross, point a few developers who had questions about Visual Studio and developing for Windows platforms my way.

The TeamworkPM App for Windows 8 I developed on the 2 big displays and the Surface Pro I wrote it on
The TeamworkPM App for Windows 8 I developed on the 2 big displays and the Surface Pro I wrote it on

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday I spent much of my shifts writing a Windows 8 app for the project management website TeamworkPM. It was especially interesting to do this because my display was being projected on two 42inch monitors above my head, this meant everyone could see what I was doing and I attracted quite a few developers to come and talk about developing for the platform.

In the evenings when the stand got a bit quiet we would try to entice people to come and see our wares in a variety of ways, one of which was through the medium of dance :P. My highlight was the Macarana, or the Microsoft Macarena as I called it.  Below you can see us all dancing and waving our glowsticks to the ever-entertaining Harlem Shake.


The main thing that first attracted me to the offer of working for Microsoft at Campus Party Europe was the fact that we could spend our down time watching some of the many speakers that came to talk about their respective fields.

I was fortunate enough to catch 2 or 3 lectures a day, from people as well respected and diverse as Jon “Maddog” Hall — chairman of Linux International — and Ian Livingstone — President of Eidos and founder of Games Workshop.

The O2 arena hosted 8 stages, of all of which had talks from 10am – 10pm each night, so there was certainly a lot to take in — too much to write about here.

My favourite talks were actually that about free and open source software (sorry, Microsoft), and the relatively new phenomenon of open data.


At the end of the week my fellow MSP’s and I were super happy with being able to have witnessed one of the coolest, and largest tech conferences in the world, but even on top of that Microsoft were generous enough to allow us to keep the devices we had been using throughout the week to showcase both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 to customers, this meant a Nokia Lumia 920 and a Microsoft Surface RT each!

I was over the moon with the Surface RT because I had been looking to get an RT device for a while to test the performance of a few of my apps on the lower powered ARM CPU’s — but I was especially happy with the Nokia Lumia 920. My phone contract ends in a few days, and because now I have an awesome new phone I’m gonna go on a SIM only plan and save myself some money 🙂


I would like to say a massive thank-you to everyone involved at the O2, the people behind Campus Party, and of course Microsoft for making everything work like clock work and giving me a fantastic opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in our industry, a lot of laughs, some great knowledge and some cool electronics! I hope to see you all again soon!


Life Programming

Changing Opinions – Why I Can No Longer Stand PHP

You can see my C# education has rubbed off a bit on my PHP programming, for example the use of Libraries and more comments than I would have previously used

My first experiance of programming was making dynamic web pages for Worldwide Lighthouses Version 2. Essentially all my project did was provide an uploader for images and data, which was then input to a database, and several different types of pages used to display information about different types of aids to navigation by pulling information from the database and formatting it in a specific way.

At the time I thought the language I was using to do this — PHP — was great, the syntax was simple and there was plenty of documentation avaliable online for free. I hadn’t had any formal tutoring, nor did I need it in order to get on with what I was doing, I taught myself and things worked… most of the time. Of course having no formal tuition I didn’t work under best practices and everything was absolutely linear, I had no concept of Object Orientation. These were the days when I loved PHP.

In fact, when I first started learning C# I thought it was downright stupid that you had to declare what type a variable contained, “Why can’t the stupid thing work out that ‘2’ is a number?” is a choice quote from myself.

Recently I’ve had to go back to PHP for a few projects, including 5Hives. I cannot stand it. Compared to C#, PHP is massively inconsistant — heres some examples:

  • Built in Methods – Some use Under_Score() naming, some use camelCase, some use number2syntax, some use numberToSyntax. This means you can never guess what a method you need might be called, especially annoying when dreamweaver and expression web don’t have very good intellisense.
  • Sometimes it prints errors to the browser, sometimes it puts them in an error log. Oh, and it doesn’t tell you where said error log is.
  • Some functions return null if they failed, some throw an exception causing the program to stop, some print errors… etc etc
  •  If you forget the $ sign before a variable, rather than telling you it uses the name of the variable as if it was a string
  • Don’t even get me started on sessions…

There are so many reasons that PHP isnt the nice “work place” that C# is that I cannot sum them all up — I’ll leave that to this much more in depth post, which I enjoyed reading and agreed with on the whole.

Just the other day Nick was saying how everyone loves the first language they learn, be that prolog, python or VB (ok, maybe not VB ;)) but I cannot count myself among this group. I can program in PHP quite well, I can tolerate it and I know there are some situations where it is one of the best tools to use (simple upload forms are still a joy to make in PHP) but I cannot say I’m its biggest fan.