Very, very, very Busy

A bit early for this I think, but my opinion is meaningless and, as you can see Christmas lights are up in the St. Stephens shopping centre as well as Cottingham village centre as early as the 1 November.

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last week or so — as is the life of a student I’ve been stupidly busy the last week or so, with coursework, lectures, Exams and odds and ends. Last week we had two exams which count towards our modules, one for Computer Systems (Operating Systems) and one for IT and Professionalism, so I spent a lot of time revising for this — which I think paid off, I got 82.5% in the Operating Systems exam, which I think is a pretty good grade! We’re yet to get our results for IT and Professionalism.

I have also been working on adding in “Artificial Intelligence” into Evil Squash as well as the normal lecture/labs routine. Friday night Jess came up to stay until Sunday and we had a great weekend. On Friday we went to  “Bang Tidy Frid’ys” at the Sanctuary Bar in the Student Union, on Saturday we went to Spiders for their usual alternative music saturday and on Sunday we took advantage of the “Free Pool All Day Sunday” deal on offer at the Sanctuary Bar.

Spiders Nightclub Saturday Night
Spiders Nightclub Saturday Night

Today I’ve been writing up about Logic Gates on modern CPU’s as well as checking over my ACW2 for Quantitative Methods for Computing before I hand it in, hopefully I’ll do quite well in that as well (fingers crossed). Speaking of maths, I’ve also spent a lot of time going through the notes lovingly prepared by Jess which make maths seem so simple — a lot of the problems I was having with the Diagnosys Test were that I’d never heard of the types of equations and thus didn’t know what to do. Now I do, so I plan to (hopefully) go and get myself over 40% tomorrow.

As well as the above we learn about Structures in C# today in our Programming 1 Lecture.

Anyway, Having finished going through my Maths notes in preparation for tomorrow I’m off to sleep, I’ll post again tomorrow!


Life University

Internet issues, Home Time, Evil Squash & Marrow Registration

As you can see, I love short blog titles, unfortunately having one isn’t possible due to the fact that I’ve missed almost a week of blogging, which is upsetting. I was unable to blog toward the end of last week due to a campus wide network issue which prevented anyone from logging in, therefore preventing everyone from getting on-line both at the University and at the Halls of Residence.

Friday night I headed back home to Dunstable — for the first time since I got to university —  from Hull via Doncaster and Stevenage. A map of this incredibly long journey is below.

Once I arrived I went for a pizza hut with Jess, came home for 2 and a half hours and then went round Shauns house for a sleepover, followed by an archery session in the morning, which was great, I’m pretty pro ;

Saturday night I went out for a meal with my family, including my uncle and auntie, and Jess at Vantage, which is a great Indian in Dunstable, which I would reccomend. Later than night we watched a Semi Skinned acoustic set followed by full sets by the amazing Subset and Dutch Order. I then ended up in Sugar loaf till around 2:45, which is great as always, especially in the company of Jess, Shaun, Sam & Fiona 🙂 When I finally got home I appreicated sleeping in my own bed for the first time in almost 2 months.

Sunday I just chilled out at home before a wonderful home cooked roast (which I have missed each week) and finally the journey back home.

On the way back home I started and finished (it’s a long journey…) my assessed coursework 2 for Programming — the aim of which is to build the game “Evil Squash”. Evil Squash is essentially snakes and ladders but with the added game-play mechanic that two players cannot occupy the same square. If a player enters the same square another player already occupies he can do one of two things

  1. Evil Squash – Make the player you land on go back to where you’ve come from.
  2. Squash Bounce – You get to ‘bounce’ off of the player and can roll the dice again and move forward

To pass the module you simply need to make a text based version of the game, by which the user plays by inputting their name into the console. From then on they simply allow the computer to roll the dice for them and occasionally make a decision on whether to squash or bounce — this is fun to program but diabolically boring to play therefore as one of my enhancements (an addition to the program in order to achieve more marks) I am going to build a graphical windows phone 7 version, which should actually make the game enjoyable… or not!

Yesterday I spent much of the day recovering from my long journey the previous night and then attended my lectures. During the Quantitive Methods for Computing tutorial we were given the 3rd and final question for our ACW 2, which I completed that night.

Today was my late start day, which is always nice and consisted of Computer Systems where we learn about memory and auxiliary memory interfaces and Programming where we looked over data and data types in C#. When I got back to the Lawns Centre I signed up to the Anthony Noland Trust Bone Marrow Register.

I recommend everyone does this, it can save lives and the procedure (which you have only a 1 in 1000 chance of being asked to do) is very similar to that of a blood donation (apart from it takes 4 hours and you get all your blood back). So please check out: I plan to give blood in november, so I better get used to needles 😛

Later in the evening I watched the film tron with Rob and his friend Simon, which was pretty good and a nice way to spend a night.

Anyway, this post is rediculously long and i feel as if Ive covered the week well.

That’s all for now,


Oracle ThinkQuest University

750 Blog views & more Windows Phone 7 Development

First of all a bit think you to everybody for actually reading my Blog!  I’ve just looked at my admin panel and I have over 750 views! Which is around 750 more than I expected when I started writing, each view is appreciated!

Today I had Quantitive Methods for Computing to start the day which was all about Logic — which so far I have found to be really easy, its basically programming without a computer.

Logic is basically programming without a computer

After that I had Computer Systems Operating Systems which was as fast paced as usual — i.e. too fast. But it is actually pretty interested, today was all about concurrency.

Concurrency is when you have multiple processes interacting with each other and using the same resources

Later in the day I had a Quantitive Methods for Computing tutorial to go over the lecture material, this too was rather simple. Finally to round my day off I had my favourite module — programming — which for me is the reason I like computer science, today’s lecture was all about “advanced methods” much of which I already knew from the C# Yellow Book, but it was a nice recap — particularly on the out and ref keywords.

After the lecture my Oracle ThinkQuest team and I caught up with Rob Miles and showed him our prototype Windows Phone 7 app (which I have been programming over the weekend) and asked him to register us to ThinkQuest, Rob seemed pretty impressed, which can’t be a bad thing!

Above you can see the main pivot page of the Application on the Windows Phone 7 emulator, with the C# code for that page in the background in Visual Studio 2011 Express for Windows Phone 7.

I don’t want to say too much about the application online until we’ve finished but I will write a little review of the Windows Phone 7 Application Design and Devlopement Process (from the eyes of a newbie)

Windows Phone 7 Application Design and Development Review

I guess the first thing to say about WP7 D&D is that it is by far the smoothest development process I personally have ever used. Controls such as buttons and text boxes are simply to put onto a page using the simple drag and drop mechanisms Visual Studio Visual C# Developers are used to, and adding functionality (via events) is as easy as a double click on any button.

This ease of development for User Interfaces allows you to spend more time on the functionality of your application, which after all is the point for it to exist!

99.9% of what I have experienced with the Visual Studio IDE, Windows Phone 7 Emulator and XAML User interface design method has been great, however there are a few things which I would like to see changed:

  • Styling list boxes is incredibly frustrating
  • Creating some sort of tile based UI is even more annoying.
  • Expression Blend is simple impossible to understand
  • Its annoying debugging on a device requires Zune to be open
  • It needs to be easier to make live tiles
  • There is no good resource online to learn how to use MS SQL CE on WP7, hopefully this will change soon
That is all for now.
Thanks for reading,

A Busy Tuesday

(My Desk — Where I Spent Most of My Day Yesterday)

Yesterday was so busy I didn’t manage to fit any blogging in, so I shall do it now!

My day started around noon when I had finished taking advantage of my one day without a 9:15 start at which point I made Pizza bread for brunch, I’ve become reasonable at cooking since coming to uni — especially after cooking each day Friday – Monday this weekend with Jess.

Pizza Bread - Its basically toast with BBQ sauce and Cheese on, I'm a Culinary genius.
Pizza Bread - Its basically toast with BBQ sauce and Cheese on, I'm a Culinary genius.

Shortly after this I paid for my accommodation online, £1180.62 well spent I think, I have enjoyed the independence of living on my own in my own place. I then filled out my student finance forms asking them to remove my Maintenance loan (which I didn’t want in the first place).

I spent much of the rest of the day doing my Quantitive Methods for Computing Coursework, writing up lecture notes and reading one of my new books – “William Stallings Computer Systems – Internals and Design Principles” – which as you can imagine is… exciting stuff. Fortunately I only have another 380 pages to read 😛 Speaking of books my book shelf is now actually starting to look full and student like.

My Bookshelf
My Bookshelf

From left to write I have

  1. A folder of University and Student Finance Documents
  2. A folder of Misc. Documents I felt I would need
  3. A reem of paper
  4. University of Hull Computer Science Department Student Handbook (full of useful stuff)
  5. Computer Systems Architecture by R. Newman, E. Gaura and D. Hibbs
  6. Computer Organization & Architecture  – Designing for Performance by William Stallings
  7. Code Complete 2 by McConnell
  8. Operating Systems Internals and Design Principles by William Stallings
  9. University of Hull Student Pages (essentially a planner)
  10. Vernon GODLittle by DCB Pierre (we got this for free on registration)
Thats everything about tuesday anyway,
Thanks for Reading

Professionalism, Operating System Structure & My First ComSoc Fragfest

Back to 9.15 starts as of today I’m afraid, but at least its a day closer to see Jess and The Specials! The day started with a professionalism lecture which essentially gave us an overview of who and what a professional is and gave us some information on what chartered & professional bodies are: the ones of particular interest to Computer Science being the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and the BCS (British Computer Society) of which I, like all Hull CS Students, am a member.

After this lecture Rob and I had 2 hours to kill, so naturally we went and got some food, once we were done I thought it would be a good idea to go and have our second goes on Diagnosys (the maths diagnostics test). One of my issues with diagnosys is that it isn’t ever very clear how it wants its answers and often it will mark you wrong for an answer which is technically right but not set out how it expects it, but even bearing this in mind both Rob and I improved our scores — In just over a week I’d improved by 6%. Good progress I think, thanks in part to excellent tuition for the girlfriend!

As 12:15 rolled in we made our way over to Applied Sciences 3 for a lecture on the structure of an Operating System which was very interesting, particularly the bit about how process queues are managed.

After this I headed over to the Robert Blackburn building to take part in the Computer Societies first Fragfest of the year — essentially a bi-weekly opportunity to play games with like-minded people and shout abuse at each other whilst doing so. Great fun, as you can imagine! Whilst there it was nice to meet up with Adam (aka Insomnia) and have a chat about many things including the viability of Linux ever overtaking Windows in terms of market and mindshare, he also told me some things I didn’t know about or were simply misinformed about. (I thought you could only release open source software for Linux – this is false, though Canonical cannot package closed source components with its Ubuntu Operating System). It was also great to have a chat to the ComSoc organisers as well as fellow gamers, hopefully I’ve made some new friends! You can see some of the attendees in the photo above showing just some of the lab.

I spent much of the evening talking to Jess, which was nice, before heading off out to meet up with some friends at the pub.

All in all its been a great day and I can’t wait for the weekend!

Thanks for Reading,


A visit to the Brynmor Jones Library and meeting Freeside

Today was another enjoyable, yet incredibly long day — I left my flat at 8:40am and didn’t get back to it until 7pm this evening! As with any other day it all started with me dragging myself out of bed and attempting to get ready for a full day of computer science before the bus left without me, fortunately as I woke up a bit earlier than usual today and my bag was already packed from the previous evening i managed it.

From 9:15 – 10:05 in Lecture Theatre A of the Robert Blackburn Building I had a Quantitive Methods for Computing Lecture with Dr. Gordon — thankfully I think I am finally starting to get some of the more advanced parts of the module and I am hopeful of not only passing but hopefully doing well! From 10:15 – 11:05 we had an induction follow up lecture ran by Dr. Gordon, Amanda the Administrator and the head of computer science (who’s name totally escapes me) — this essentially was a question and answer session to work out any issues we had and was full of sarcastic banter from some of the students in the row in front of me — very funny indeed.

After an hours bacon bap break we return to AS3-LLT — where the induction follow up had been held — for a fascinating Computer Systems lecture on “The Nature of Computers Today & the Launch of the Home Computer” which detailed how computers scaled down from being massive room sized machines which several users connected to with “dumb terminals” and automated much of the computing process to the personal computing at home. The irony of course being that the move to the cloud is a move back to mainframe style systems, its weird how such concepts come round again.

After this Rob and I has 2 hours to fill before our QMfC tutorial so we decided to venture into the MASSIVE Brynmor Jones Library — which was formerly the library of Philip Larkin, one of the most famous poet laureates of all time and the namesake of one of the buildings at the university — its pictured above. Its 7 floors tall and thanks to Murphy’s law all of the Computer Science and Maths books are on the top floor — however we were pleasantly surprised by the views presented to us once we’d got to the top. Some of the pictures I took are below:

View of Faculty of Business from the Brynmor Jones Library
View of Faculty of Business from the Brynmor Jones Library
View of Chemistry Building from Brynmor Jones Library
View of Chemistry Building from Brynmor Jones Library
View of Venn Building from the Brynmor Jones Library
View of Venn Building from the Brynmor Jones Library
Rob Checking out some of the Computer Science Books in the Brynmor Jones Library
Rob Checking out some of the Computer Science Books in the Brynmor Jones Library

After the brief visit to the library we waited in the Sanctuary bar in the Student union for our 3rd Lecture of the day with Dr. Gordon — a tutorial to support the earlier lecture for QMfC. This was excellent and helped me finally get my head round equations with fractions of x in — which I’m sure will be vital in my day to day life 😉

After that we had a one hour Programming Lecture which consisted of learning about Programming languages and our jobs as programmers. We learnt a few very important things, 1) If you don’t keep the specification of a contract your customer wont pay you. 2) 66% of IT projects fail — mainly due to miscommunication of what the end result should be and perhaps most interestingly

English would make a terrible programming language as a lot of its words are ambiguous and could mean any number of things given the situation its used in. Computers are too thick to understand this and require a precise language where one word or phrase can only have one meaning.

That’s the sole reason we have languages such as C#, Java and BASIC.

After this I went to Freeside‘s first meeting of the year in which they installed Linux onto the attendees computers for them — in this case it was the brand new 10.10 distro of Ubuntu. It was lovely to speak to all the people there, especially “TastyWithPasta” — the executive of the ComSoc at hull as well as to have some free fairy cakes and Pepsi Max, I can’t wait to see what’s going on n the future with the Department of Computer Scientists FOSS group.

Well, it seems I’ve written far too much for anyone to bother reading again so i’ll leave it there!

If you’ve gotten this far well done!


BTW: If you like reading stories that make no sense whats-so-ever you may be interested in Jess’ blog about her really weird dreams which no-one (including herself) understand — you can find it at


Algorithms & Logarithms

(A flow diagram showing the process of working out a problem, making an algorithm to solve said problem and then programming it so a computer can do it for you)

The feature image for this post describes a lot of my day. It shows what we learnt about what an algorithm is in our 2nd Programming lecture of the week and it also shows how I have typed up all my notes and made them a lot more professional and graphical. The aforementioned lecture took place at 4:15 so I had the entire day to myself until 3:30 at which point I would have to catch the bus.

The day started at some time between 6:55 and 7:10 (I don’t know exactly when, either way it was far too early) however because of the “early morning fire test”. This involved me jumping out of bed, putting some jeans on (I tend to sleep in a shirt anyway) and slipping into some boots and then walking calmly (read: Running) out of the door of the block. All of Lambert was out of their halls in 2 minutes and 36 seconds, a healthy 24 seconds before the buildings would have burnt down. 😛 This was particularly impressive seen as we have a deaf boy in our block.

After a few hours sleep to recover from such an early morning I woke up and texted Jess for a while before tidying my room, emptying my bins and making myself a lunch of Bacon Toasties. By the time I had collected a package (full of basically a weeks worth of clothes! Excellent!) and packed my bag for the day and checked the previous days lecture notes it was time to go!

The lecture consisted of learning about what algorithms actually are (essentially methodologies for doing certain tasks) and looking at some example problems which could be resolved. When I got back to the lawns it was more than time for dinner! This consisted of Gammon and chips and a chocolate donut —  it was lovely!

Soon after this me and Jess got our maths vibe on and she taught me Logarithms. According to wikiedia:

 logarithm reverses exponentiation

Essentially this means it lets you figure out what power would have been used to get that number. It took me a long time but eventually I understood Logarithm with a custom base in addition to common Logarithm (where the base is always 10).

Thats all for today, thanks for reading!


Maths, maths and more maths!

(The two A4 sheets which have taken up much of my night, and have helped me learn interesting subjects such as  Scientific Notation, Significant Figures, Decimal Places, Rounding, Percentages, Modular Arithmetic, Logarithms, Expand, Factorise & Prime Factorisation)

Today was the start of my first full week of proper lectures and it started with a 9:15 lecture on Quantitive Methods for Computing — which as the name suggests is all about the mathematics behind computer programming. The lecture was an introduction to the module and touched on some basics such as Number systems (including a brief history of integers from Roman Numerals (and why its not such a great system due to the lack of a 0) to the modern day system we use originally thought up by Arabic people).

2 hours later, around lunch time, I also had my first computer systems lecture which explained the course. Essentially we will be looking into computer architectures and hardware as well as the function of Operating Systems. This sounds like it will be an enjoyable module, and many CS students will probably agree with me judging by the amount of people who raised their hand to say they had built their own computer — well over 90%.

About 3:15 we had our first QMfC Tutorial, where Dr Gordon provided additional support and gave us some works sheets to go through to be marked against model answers later in the week as well as our scores to Fridays diagnostics test — since then I have been working hard to go through the sheet as I need to work really hard to get my maths up to the level that is required for my CS degree.

Directly after the tutorial I had a Programming Lecture which was an introduction to what computers are (technically) and algorithms, both of which also look to be pretty interesting. Unfortunately Rob Miles couldn’t be there as he is in Berlin for some Windows Phone 7 conferences, however the lecture was still quite humorous — which is good as that helps me learn.

When I got back to the lawns I immediately had dinner as it was almost 6 and I hadn’t eaten since my Jacket Potato and Cheese at 11:30, chilled for about 45 minutes and then left for my compulsory 1 hour lecture on Fire safety, very kindly presented by Humberside Fire Brigade, whilst in student housing, which was both full of interesting facts and somewhat unnerving.  Since then the lovely Jessica has been helping me with my mathematics as she got an A at AS and is currently in the process of taking A2, which is the time when many of the theories and methods are taught.

Im exhausted after today so thats all for now, thanks for reading!