Course Rep Training

Yesterday I went for my course representative training in which we learnt about how the Hull University Union works, what we are expected to do to fit in to that and how to be a great, approachable course representative who gets things done for their coursemates.

We also learnt more about the university as a whole, our moral obligations to both the union and our fellow students. In addition to that we met a whole bunch of new people ūüėÄ

Part of the training was creating the¬†monstrosity¬†of a picture you can see above. It’s supposed to be the idealization of the perfect lecturer, each feature he has contains an alternate meaning:

  • He has a big head and a brain¬†protruding¬†from it showing intelligence
  • He has a captains hat & mustache to show he’s in authority and gets things done
  • He has big ears to show he listens to his students problems
  • The monocle shows he is classy
  • He has a big smile to show he is easily approachable
  • Under his suit, which shows hes professional, he has a superman outfit because hes great!
  • He has a penguin on his shoulder, which was initially meant to be a parrot but im rubbish at drawing ūüėõ So it become the first and only penguin ever able to fly because of how inspirational the lecturer is
  • He has a thumb up to show he actually solves problems
  • And most importantly he has jet engines for feet to show how he quickly deals with issues

Course rep training was a fun¬†experience¬†and I can’t wait to start making a difference to the Department of Computer Science and the University as a whole, for the better ūüôā



Danny Brown – Course Representative

A few weeks ago I applied to be a course representative for Diploma Stage (Second Year) students within the Computer Science department at the University of Hull. Yesterday I received an email congratulating me on having been accepted as a Course Rep for the year :).

The role of a course rep is to interface with both their fellow students and the department/faculty in order to make sure the quality of life and education is as good as possible for each student. Therefore if you have any issues with anything on the course you shouldn’t¬†hesitate¬†to contact me or one of my fellow course reps through our university emails, or in person — this can be done confidentially.

My fellow student reps include my housemate James Czerwik-Hampshire as well as Scott Sanderson, Ryan Mitchell and Marty Hoyle

I look forward to trying to improve the department, starting with training next week!


Oracle ThinkQuest University

Oracle ThinkQuest

Today was pretty good, and set me off on hopefully a very fruitful project!

The day started as most days do for me, with a mad rush to catch the bus to get to my first period lecture on time, which today was an IT and Professionalism Module Test, unfortunately that proved to be a waste of time as a design fault in the IT system (somewhat ironically…) stopped us from being able to log into the test page we needed on eBridge, so after 30 minutes of twiddling our thumbs the test was abandoned.

I then had an hours wait till an entertaining¬†programming¬†lecture with Rob Miles, followed by a Operating Systems lectures, followed by IT and professionalism — a busy 3 hour stretch.

After another hours wait in Sanctuary (the Hull Student Union bar) I headed to meeting room 4 of Student House for a seminar provided by the Oracle Education Foundation. Oracle is a huge multinational software company which owns a 42% share of the database market around the world. It is estimated that 80% of working people will have used at least 1 Oracle product today, a massive figure!

I don’t usually look favourably upon Oracle for the issues that have¬†occurred¬†with MySQL since Oracle aquired MySQL AB,¬†however¬†this seminar was absolutely fantastic and gave great insight into the technology sector job market and globalisation as a whole. Essentially due to previously undeveloped countries, such as¬†India, suddenly becoming big in the¬†technology¬†coupled with remote employment (people working from home, anywhere in the world, with some “teams” spanning multiple continents) the amount of people applying for each Computer Science role has increased, meaning more competition — because of this each of us has to have as strong a list of skills and CV as possible.

Oracle therefore offer a competition to allow people to¬†acquire¬†and hone their skills and add to their CV, its called ThinkQuest as you may have assumed from the title. The outline of the competition is that you have a team of 1 – 6 as well as an adult (usually lecturer) team leader to guide you and you outline an issue that you feel needs solving, e.g. “children’s¬†rights” and then¬†develop¬†a solution (either an application or website). The team who last year chose “children’s¬†rights” as an issue created a website and games to raise¬†awareness¬†of the issue and came in second place.

Its a competition so it has prizes! These include

  • Trips to San¬†Francisco¬†to meet top Oracle Developers for a week
  • Laptops
  • Money for your uni
  • Chance to apply for a PAID internship
Pretty good!
Tonight I arranged a team by sending a Facebook message to some of my fellow CS students and we asked Rob Miles to be our team leader, so hopefully I’m on my way to a cool prize! Even if it doesn’t work out that way it’ll be an awesome experiance to add to the CV.
Thanks for Reading

Fire Alarm!

Unfortunately this post starts with another rant about the bloody Railway Crossing in Cottingham which today decided to come down right in front of my morning bus to uni for about 6 minutes for a train with approximately 10 people on to go past.

Once I’d finally got to uni my 9:15 lecture was about Professional Conduct as an employee in the Information Technology Sector, most of it is common sense, like have a contract and stick to it and don’t do things which could be¬†considered¬†as illegal¬†misuse¬†of computers.After enduring that for an hour I had two hours to fill with eating in the Student Union and talking to Sean and Rob. Half way through this however the large magnet powered doors all shut, red lights started flashing and the fire alarm came on. This resulted in the entire SU being evacuated — you can see people leaving in the feature picture.

My next lecture was Computer Systems Operating Systems and was all about Memory Management which is a ridiculously complex process by which the OS allocated memory resources to individual processes and then feeds the addresses of the memory locations containing said processes to the processor. There are several methods which we have to learn about.

After that lecture I made my way to Cottingham to write angry letters to Student Finance, buy (extortionately priced)  envelope and stamps to send said angry letters and complete some OS homework as well as talk to Jess and eat Dinner.

My angry letter to Student Finance England - Hand Written!
My angry letter to Student Finance England - Hand Written!

That pretty much concludes my day

Thanks for Reading,


The loss of a Computing Visionary & The Creation Of A Cinema Age Validation Program

I will start this post with an admission, as anyone who has even spoken to me on the topic of Apple Inc or any of their products will tell you I really really dislike the company, their ideology, their methods, their attitude and their products. None of it sits well with my thoughts and feelings about computing. This isn’t an anti-jobs thread though — I must admit I was shocked and saddened to hear of Steve Jobs death when I woke up this morning and I think it is a great loss to the computing world and the world as a whole in some regards.

Perhaps the things that are most important that Steve Jobs and Co have left us are the popularisation of WIMP interfaces (you’re most likely using one now to see this post) and the idea of Hard-Drive based Portal Media Players — known to you and me as the iPod. Products such as smartphones, tablets and even app stores are great but Microsoft got there first on all 3 counts, Apple really innovated with the iPod and with pushing WIMP style interfaces though.

In the regard of how Jobs desire for “grandma friendly” computing really helped to push it to the masses I think he succeeded in his aim of “making a dent in the universe” and both himself and apple will be remembered for a long time.

In happier news though for programming 1 today I went well beyond the expectation in one of my frees and completed a WinForms based cinema age validation programme, which I will make¬†available¬†for a (rather pointless) download soon ūüôā

As im extremely tired after 5 hours of labs/lectures today I bid thee goodnight!

Thanks for reading

Tech Reviews University

Spiders, Sunday & Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review


Last night as I mentioned in my previous post I went to spiders with the Rock Society of the Hull University Union and Jess. It was totally different to any club or venue I’ve been to before. Its essentially a big house and garden in the middle of an industrial estate with 3 rooms, each dedicated to a different genre of rock, our favourite of which was the 60’s-80’s room which played classic bands such as Madness, The¬†Selecter¬†and The Ramones. We were also happy with the great variety of cheap drinks¬†available¬†—¬†notably¬†a special called The JUGular — a 6 drink jug containing two shots of your choice, two liquors and loads of soft drink — in our case Coke! It was so tasty, but also¬†incredibly¬†alcoholic! Yum.


Today I spent most of my time in Cottingham and Hull City¬†Centre — with Jess — finding a¬†reasonably¬†priced place we could both eat which with her being vegetarian that was somewhat difficult. Eventually we settled on a small pub which offered a Sunday Roast Carvery for me and a Veggie burger for her. After that we spent a lot of time enjoying the compact, yet full city centre in hull which offers many shops, resturants and facilities. After only being here a week I can¬†safely¬†say Hull doesn’t deserve the reputation it gets, its an enjoyable place to live with great night life, friendly locals and a buzzing atmosphere.¬†Unfortunately¬†Jess also left tonight at 6:30 after a fun filled weekend of clubbing and student life! Fortunately ill be able to see her soon when she comes back to see the amazing Specials in just under two weeks!

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango running on the HTC 7 Mozart

As I posted yesterday I bought a HTC 7 Mozart, originally running Windows Phone 7, on O2 as part of a 24 month contract. Since then I have upgraded the phone to Windows Phone 7.5 using the slightly hacky method documented on WinRumours. The update has bought a lot of functionality that was missing from the original 7.0 release of the OS. Most notably custom ringtone support and multi-tasking, all of which are very well explained and reviewed on Ars Technica, so I wont delve into those so much — however I would like to bring to peoples attention some of the lesser of the 500 updates which I feel have a great impact!

Messaging Improvements

The first thing I noticed when changing from 7.0 to 7.5 was perhaps one of the smallest changes to the OS —¬†Emotions¬†in text messages, whereas before the operating literally showed a string of symbols such as “:-)” if you selected a smiley face from the emotions keyboard it now shows some cool, single colour mango styled faces or icons depending on what you typed. Here is a collation of all the emotions produced by 1800PocketPC;

Windows Phone 7 Mango Text Emotions
Windows Phone 7 Mango Text Emotions

Another small but notable improvement was the fact that the phone now uses two different tones of your accent colour to differentiate between incoming and outgoing messages, rather than just using left and right. This is excellent UI design and makes reading texts a much more enjoyable experiance.

Other Aesthetic Changes

Another small aesthetic change is the improvement of the XBOX Live logo, which is now a lot more suited to the Metro Design the OS uses, before it felt ugly and out of place, but now it feels like a 1st rate application on the device. Yet another UI design change I like is the fact that Internet Explorers UI is now all at the bottom of the screen, rather than the top — this allows for a larger viewing area and in my opinion looks better. (IE also went from being based off of IE6/7 to IE9, a massive HTML5 powered difference ūüėČ

Overall Feeling

Windows Phone 7.5 feels complete. In a nutshell it is what 7.0 should have been and is easily my favourite Phone OS due to its simple yet pretty look, mass of features and future potential (due to hopefully an influx of customers when Nokia release their device, and therefore an Influx of money hungry developers). I would definately¬†recommend¬†this OS to anyone — from tech savvy to¬†totally¬†technophobic — because it is simple enough for normal use (internet browsing, sending texts, making calls) but also extremely flexible for those who want a little more from their mobile device.

Thanks for Reading


Archery and Societies

(Unfortunately it was somewhat difficult to take a picture of me holding a bow and arrow, so here’s one of other people ;))

An integral part of University life is learning to do new things — its the entire reason I and everyone else is here, but this doesn’t stop at the subject you take or even academia entirely. This is where the¬†Athletic¬†Union and Societies step in and provide extra-curricular¬†activies, trips and a great way to meet new people.

The AU had an event yesterday where all the different sporting teams showed up and tried to woo some new members into joining. As more of a geek than a sportsmen I wasn’t too interested, however I did pick up a free archery taster session leaflet which I used later today. Today was the turn of the societies, there was a good turn out with societies ranging from course specific — such as the Law Society and the Business Society — to political societies — such as Labour and Conservative — to¬†religious¬†societies such as The Islamic Society and the¬†Christian¬†Society. As you would expect there we’re also some random Societies such as HUGS (The Hull Union Go-Karting Society). Only two of those¬†available¬†really interested me, these were ComSoc, the computer society, and the Hull Rock Soc who organise nights out to local rock gigs and meet up to talk about rock music, fashion and news.

Today I decided it would be fun to give the free taster session of Archery a go as I had a day totally free of lectures. I met with the people who run the society at 1:45 outside HUU and we were lead to a large field on the other side of the campus which had 4 targets set up on it as you can see in the above picture. We waited for around half an hour for more people to turn up and then we were given the all important safety talk. Essentially do as you’re told and don’t hit anyone. After this we queued in front of one of the ranges, dependent on sex and height and then had to wait to take out thee shots. I missed the target with my first (I was holding the bow in a¬†slightly¬†cack handed fashion) and hit the outside blue and inside white with my other two arrows. It’s¬†definitely a society I’m going to consider¬†joining, I really enjoyed it.

After the archery I was starving so I went and had lunch and a pint of coke at the Sanctuary bar in the Student union, a hickory chicken and chips, a great choice! Whilst in the union I saw the O2 people, who are offering student deals all this week in the union on new contracts and PAYG phones. Being in desperate need of a new phone and coming to the end of my contract with the diabolical Orange I decided to opt for a 24 month contract (at ¬£24 a month after haggling with the salesman — down from ¬£27) with the HTC 7 Mozart Windows Phone 7 device. It looks like a beautiful phone and I shall review it once I¬†receive¬†it tomorrow!

Since then I’ve had a phone call with Jess and a Skype video chat with my family, both of which were very enjoyable. Tonight I plan to stay in and get on with some web design work I’ve been putting off for a while.

Thanks for reading,


I’m now officially a University of Hull Student!

Today was my second proper day at the UoH and I must say I’m loving it so far! Today I woke up¬†about¬†8:30, got ready as fast as possible and ran for the bus which took me to the university for about 9:05. Once I got there it was a mad dash to the Wilberforce building (Lecture hall 2) for our Academic Induction — this provided us with information on Safety, Members of the Department & Professionalism (effectively telling us the actions taken against people who plagerise or are¬†consistently¬†late or not in¬†attendance). The faculty of Science comes down very hard on such people.

The Wilberforce building is built in recognition of a famous hull resident William Wilberforce, who helped to abolish the slave trade. Supposedly the building was built in the shape of a slave ship so as to remind people not to go back to those ways. I for one, cannot see it.

The Wilberforce Building
The Wilberforce Building - Can you see a slave ship?

After the induction Sean, Rob and I had an hour to kill¬†until¬†our next meeting so we decided to check out what the gym facilities are like on campus, we we’re semi impressed. It is better than the council owned facility in Dunstable, but not nearly as good as the facilities as DW sports.

After we had our tour round the gym we went and sat in the SU garden for a while to kill some more time. 11:15 rolled round pretty quickly and we were back in WI-LH2 for a Year 1 orientation which was all about Personal Development & Professionalism — which the university takes very seriously, as it makes study better during the time at Hull and makes the¬†likelihood¬†of getting a job much better too. The meeting concluded around 12:05 on the subject of maths and the impending exam, which is on Friday — I cant wait. Sigh.

After being in WI-LH2 for so long it was nice to be in the open air of the Student Union Sanctuary Bar Garden for an hour and a half whilst we waited to officially register with the university and¬†receive¬†our student ID cards — during this time I ordered an individual size¬†margarita¬†pizza from the Sanctuary¬†bar, it was really tasty and fantastic value for money at ¬£2.70.

Registering was simple, really professionally handled and seamless. It took all of around 5 minutes to show them my proof of student loan for my tuition fee and give them all the information they needed as well as collect my card.

After we had registered we had a quick look round the Sporting Societies tent — I’m not massively into any sports but I was¬†eustatic¬†when I recieved a voucher for a free shoot at the archery range! I Immediately texted Shaun who is a pro archer.¬† Once we had seen all the stalls and¬†received¬†all the millions of handouts we headed back to the Lawns on the bus — two turned up at once, which was pretty good as it meant all the people waiting outside the uni got home quickly (for once!).

Once I was home I dropped my stuff off in the flat and proceeded to go into the Village of Cottingham to buy some passport photos for my Residents Card which will allow me to use the bar and resturant facilities in the Lawns Centre from here on in — I took this¬†opportunity¬†to also get some cash out. The walk to and from Cottingham is a pleasant one as the village is actually quite pleasent, rather different to the usual image people depict when they talk of Hull, and¬†Humberside¬†in general.¬† (Interesting side note – the Lawns are in East Yorkshire, whilst the University is in the new county of Humberside)

Since then I’ve had dinner and now I’m sitting in my flat writing this blog entry. Here’s the view from my flat right now (5:53pm)

View from the Lawns (1)
View from the Lawns (1)
View from the Lawns (2)
View from the Lawns (2)

Later my entire block are going on a pub crawl to 4 bars and a club with our Freshers Parents (the people who look after us from the year above and get us¬†acquainted¬†with local activities during freshers week). Hopefully that will be as good fun as last night, which I spent with some quality lads from Nicholson Block A – where my friend Sean lives. Chase and status “played” a DJ set, but it was essentially watching people dance to a CD with an MC constantly shouting “Wheres the mosh pit?” over the top. Pro Tip: there wasn’t one.

Asylum before Chase & Status
Asylum before Chase & Status

Anyway, thats all for now, I’m really happy I’m enjoying freshers week!

Thanks for Reading!


Register, Register, Register

(A map of the buildings at The University of Hull – of which I visited 3 – the Robert Blackburn, Hardy and Ferans)

Well, last nights trip to the acoustic night didn’t go too well. We waited for a bus for 45 minutes before deciding to back down and just go to The Lawns Centre Bar instead. It was a good night, with card games, quizzes and metal music in the background — hopefully it’ll be a frequent¬†occurrence.

Today was the first weekday I have been at the university so this of course meant registering to my department and registering for a GP ‘oop north’ here in Hull. I got up about 8am, which for me is early and almost surprising! ¬†I proceeded to have a shower and get dressed and made my way to the bus stop with my flatmate Rob and my friend from back in Dunstable — Sean, both of which are also taking computer science.

We got to the massive Robert Blackburn building about 10 O’clock and went to room 312 to get our departmental as well as university registration forms. This consisted of around 6 pages of personal details and took around 20 minutes to fill in. We did this in the great surroundings of the Student Union Pub garden (which also had a wi-fi connection for my laptop once we’d finished to research foo fighters albums! Awesome!)

After all the forms we were feeling pretty peckish so we went to the great ‘Quickbite Cafe and internet lounge’ in the SU. I had a cheese Jacket Potato and a glass bottle of Coke zero – possibly the perfect lunch?!

After we had our fill we headed to the Hardy building — Lecture hall 1 for an induction and¬†explanation¬†of the course (including telling us how if we wanted to do internet services, we should be in scarborough!). This answered a lot of questions and also allowed us to sign up to the British Computer Society — The Chartered Institute for IT. This was exciting and I think it’s excellent its included for free as part of the course here at Hull.

After this we had another 1 hour break to kill before going to hand in our registration materials and collect a timetable and course handbook, both of which are vital! This only took 5 minutes for me, but sean was at the back of the queue and it took almost 3 hours for him! I got really lucky.

Rob and I were¬†discussing¬†on the way out what day we had to register with a local GP (a compulsory part of staying in uni¬†accommodation¬†and joining a course — as well as a vital safety precaution). Fortunetly ¬†we passed a sign telling us it was today and showing us directions to the Ferens building where the GP registration was taking place.

Chosing a doctor involved looking at the services offered and location — I opted for New Hall Surgery as it was close to my halls of residence here at The Lanws as well as allowing me to make appointments online, which is a very useful feature. Signing up took a further two forms! Fun, Fun, Fun!

That was the end of my day as far as academic stuff goes.

When I got back to The Lawns I went on MSN with Jessica and took a few phone calls from my family. Half way through this I had dinner at the Lawns Centre, which included getting my new Residents card and paying £3 for the privilege. I have to go and get some passport photos tomorrow to complete it.

Tonight I’m going to see Chase & Status — a Pop Dance group, not really to my usually punky taste. I’ve seen them before and thought they were crap because they had more guest singers than songs! ¬†Literally. Hopefully they impress me a little more tonight!





(Mum, Ruby, Dad and Michael at my new Flat at the Lawns in Cottingham)

Well, I havn’t updated this blog for a few days now, which I’m annoyed to say! So I’m going to cover the last 2 days — and today in one post.


Friday was an emotional night, my last one in my home town of¬†Dunstable¬†for at least a few months – the last time I’d see my family for around 6 weeks, and the last time I would see my girlfriend for at least 3 weeks. I was sad to say goodbye to the people who mean the most to me, but I know its necessary for me to go further with my education and hopefully have a better life as a result, and have good fun whilst I’m at it!

My family and Jess were obviously upset too, which I found hard to deal with as I love them so!


My Computer Set Up at The Lawns
My Computer Set Up at The Lawns

Saturday I woke up at around 7:30 to get my final packing sorted and the last few pieces into the car, about 45 minutes later we set off from Dunstable to Cottingham a village just outside the City of Hull where my student accommodation is situated. The journey took us from 8:15 till 11:30 including a stop for a Burger King breakfast, which was good going on the travel front and tasty on the food front!

I then proceeded to meet the warden and get a key from my room, as well as get my stuff out of the car and move in. Within minutes of saying my goodbyes to my family I was chatting to another Computer Scientist and a chemist who were staying on the same floor as me, which was nice. I invited them in for a drink and we started chatting.

Later our entire block went to dinner together, which was nice and we had Pie, chips and new potatoes! A Right northern meal, which was wicked (and came with the northern¬†delicacy– gravy)¬†! An hour or so after dinner we met our ‘freshers parents’ — two students from the year above who were to show us around, tell us the rules and then¬†escort¬†us to Asylum, the hull student union night club. Clubbing isn’t really my thing so I sat in the beer garden with a few friends I’ve made. It was great fun.

I came home around 12 because I was so tired from such a busy day and I wanted to chat to Jess, which I enjoyed. As soon as i hit my bed I fell asleep, which was a pleasant surprise compared to my normal insomnia.

Sunday (Today)

Today I woke up around 9:30 and just chilled in my room on my own for a few hours to catch a breather from the constant pounding of information I’ve had since I got here. At 11:30 I met up with my friend Sean who also went to Queensbury Upper School with me in Dunstable, and was in my AS/A2 ¬†Business class – we went to the Freshers Fair – which is basically a tent full of companies advertising themselves by giving you free stuff. Wicked.

I got:

  • A DVD of Public Enemies (from Microsoft for playing higher or lower and getting 8 right!)
  • A free half chicken at Nandos (for playing higher or lower and getting it WRONG)
  • Loads of leaflets
  • Dominos promotional stuff
  • A big wall chart with all of HUU’s events for the year!
Later I’m going to go to an acoustic night at the Student union, which will be fun and I’m going to get a¬†relatively¬†early night due to the fact my course starts at 9:30 and it lasts till 5 with only an hours break! Intensive first day or what!?
Anyway, thats all for now