It’s My Birthday!

It’s my birthday today, but we’re not doing much to celebrate it as we’ve both got so much work on at the moment.

I’ve finished my website, done a very shoddy write-up and now just need to do the script for the automated telephone service.

Next I’ve got to do the lovely concept maps for the course. It’s tempting to leave out one or two lectures and see if he notices. I have decided to spend tonight and tomorrow doing as many as possible so that I can concentrate on doing as much of my Interim Research Report as possible at the weekend.

I have managed to write a functioning script in CLisp to massage the SIMS data into shape, but it’s littered with globals so I need to refactor it. I’m planning on spending some more time looking at SIMS data using CLisp for scripting.

Plus once Year 11 have gone I’ll have a look at writing a version of DT-Monitor in CLisp using a web framework if I can find one, and PHP with Zend again if not.

Pointy Birds

Last week, and last night we covered C++ pointers, basically it seems to boil down to the following bits. A pointer to an integer object which contains the value 1, can be written as:

int* fred = new int( 1 );

which can be split into three parts:

a. int* fred which declares fred as a pointer to an integer.
b. fred = new int; which allocates enough memory to hold the integer to which fred points
c. *fred = 1; which puts the value of 1 into the object to which fred points ( or *fred )

Pointers can be passed to and returned from functions ( and also need to be deleted in certain circumstances which didn’t get explained), if a pointer is passed into a function then, the object to which it points can be altered, and the ampersand used when we pass by reference is also an address, thereby providing us with a pointer to something.

A Very Busy Week

I’ve had a reasonable week I suppose, lots of work plus college 2 nights. I may even get around to becoming the Union Rep at work next week. I’ve been thinking about writing a program that I might even one day be able to sell. Basically it would generate Mental Arithmetic Tests (like the current KS3 ones) either at random or according to some user entered criteria. It would generate 4 files for each run:-

The audio file.
The pupils’ answer paper.
The teacher’s answer paper.
A transcript of the test questions.

I think the second part will be quite difficult. As will any actually generating the questions.

For my Information Systems module, we’ve received the second assignment. It involves using something called SSADM tools to analyse a business, and produce a simple database. I couldn’t actually decide if he wanted us to use a specific tool to generate our diagrams or whether we can just do it from scratch.

Got to go, will write about this in more detail tomorrow.

Programming Course

All afternoon on Sunday and from 2.30 until 11pm yesterday I was working on two C++ programs for my course. I went to college this evening only to find the lecture cancelled because the lecturer was off ill. What a pain that was, basically I could have taken my time and handed them in next week and all would have been fine.

It does mean that I’ll be able to rework part of the first program which traps and deals with errors in the input(this is only a first year programming course so we haven’t got on to anything complicated like exception handling yet). But its still a pain having worked so hard on it in such a short space of time to suddenly find that it didn’t have to be done until next week after all.

I have handed in the other Assignment on Access.

Night, night.

Access 2003 Database

I spent all day yesterday completing an Assignment for my course using Access 2003, what a pain it is to use! I’ve used most of the other common elements of Microsoft Office on a fairly regular basis, but until I started this module I’d had no reason to try Access.

The Help files are awful, they tell you next to nothing about how to do stuff its all “Function X has failed to work because Gizmo Y is not Z, please make Y have Z before trying to use X” (ok that may be a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean). Generating Reports was a pain, there doesn’t seem to be a way of saving the Report in the format its generated in, every time you open what appears to be a saved Report it regenerates the contents on the fly wiping anything you’d tried to save.

Trying to make anything but the simplest of Reports is a nightmare, the formatting (lines etc) are awful working out whether the data you’re going to show is Left Aligned, Centered or Right Aligned isn’t obvious. Text Boxes and Labels which are LINKED aren’t aligned properly! It reminded me of all of the bad things about early versions of Windows and other systems like the Amiga, where simple things were hard to do, for god’s sake how hard is it to draw a horizontal line?

Anyway rant over, today I’ve got another asignment to do, this ones in C++ and I’m using Visual 2003 version which is an example of how to do something reasonably right (it’s a damn site more intuitive to use than Access).

Time to go, as I need to get cracking, its due in on Tuesday so it might be worth actually starting it.


Downloading MinGW

Well I’ve just been looking around on the net to see if I can find a decent IDE and I’m in the process of downloading the MinGW Developer Studio (23 Meg over dialup so a bit of a wait in store) which looks alright but I’ll have to wait and see. Am very tired, K’s at School still, its their Open Evening so she’ll be gone for a good while yet, its my turn next Thursday.

At work yesterday I had yet another set-back in trying to get the “Classroom in a box” working with Maths Alive, our ICT technician supplied me with the user name and password to access the site but it refused to work. So we’re still waiting 6 months after they arrived to use the laptops with a class. If I can get them working before next week, then I’ll have some out with the kids during Open Evening. But if there’s nothing to run on them then there’s no point. They did however come and measure my room in preparation for installing the Interactive Whiteboard and Projector.

I think I’ll have a play with C++ again later to get my eye in before I start at the Institute next week, and to have a go at this MinGW DS thing to see if its any good. I went to PC World on the way home tonight, they’re selling MS Visual C++.NET 2003 version for £99.99, but if you buy the Deluxe Learning Edition (advertised as containing the full version of Visual C++.NET) which is sold with a book, it’ll only cost you £86.95, bizarre or what.

Its my busy day tomorrow, I teach all day, and finish off with 8S, who so far don’t seem too bad. If I remember right I’m doing constructions with them so that’ll be fun, and I’ve threatened to keep behind any of them who don’t come properly equipped.

Anyway I’m going now as its time for me to sort out my tea.

Playing with Dasher

I went to the Institute last night for my induction. The first session of the evening was good as I finally got some details about the Modules I’m doing. The first one’s called Computer Environments, which seems to be a basic course about computers, and how they work. Whilst the second is called Programming and Design I, which seems to be a basic course in C++. Next semester I’m going to be doing the second part of the Programming and Design course along with one on Information Systems.

I spoke to a couple of the other blokes who are doing the same modules as me, they seemed pleasant enough though it’s early days yet. They gave us a couple of handouts to do with the course, which gives a list of Indicative Reading for each module, but the books listed may be out of date. Anyway the modules begin properly on Tuesday evening, next week so I’ll have more of an idea once we’re actually underway. After the initial Departmental Induction it was time for a visit to the library and resource centre where we all got logon details for the network and email addresses.

Finally we had a presentation by the Dean of Students which was alright but nothing I hadn’t heard before, basically she talked about all of the things which it might be useful to know as a new student in Bolton. The most relevant fact to me was probably the fact that the Institute is going to be renamed in the next few months as the University of Bolton unsurprisingly enough.

Most of the text for this entry was entered using Dasher, a bizarrely addictive text entry system, if you haven’t tried it yet give it a go, I’m trying to work out if there’s some way of using it in conjunction with the Interactive Whiteboard I’m due to get in my room at work, but I’m not sure how useful it’ll be.

I’m going to stop playing with C#, in the very near future I think, even though I really quite like it so that I can concentrate on C++, which is probably going to end up being my language of choice. Now I just need to find a non-M$ development environment to use on Windows and I’ll be laughing. At least if its as good as KDevelop or #Develop in terms of code completion etc.

There’s A Pint Of Guinness With My Name On It In Town!

We’re just getting ready to go out drinking now, we’ve arranged to meet, Paula, Dave and Rachel at Ye Old Man and Scythe for afternoon drinkies. Alex was originally supposed to be coming, but as per usual he’s unobtainable at the moment when we need to reach him.

We went to see Touching The Void last night, what an awesome film, Karen was wincing at various points but overall we left with a sense of “Wow, how did he manage to survive?”. A full five stars I think. Then it was off to Frankie and Benny’s for a slap up tea.

I managed to start looking at QT last night before we went out, and in theory it was making perfect sense, but when it starts to get complicated thats when i’ll be struggling. Having said that I have ordered a book called C++ GUI Programming with QT3″ or some such, but I’m still waiting for it to arrive.

Anyway time for me to go, there’s a pint of Guinness in town with my name on it.