First hurdle achieved on ED209

I’ve had my result for TMA03 back today and while it was nothing like as good as my TMA02 score, it was good enough for me to get across the first hurdle for passing the course of scoring at least 40% of the available marks on the continuous assessment (OCAS) part, even with 3 TMAs still to go. This, of course, would count for nothing if I score less than 40% in the exam (OES), but there’s plenty of time to go before then. And more pressingly, I really need to finish off TMA04 this weekend as I won’t have any time available next week to do it because of work commitments.

I’m still by my calculations about a week ahead of the course schedule, but pretty soon I’ll be working to the schedule and possibly getting a little way behind. There seems to be a fairly common consensus from other students I’ve talked to or read posts from on the forums that this course is a lot of work, particularly with respect to reading, and that’s my view too. It certainly seems to be a lot more work than DSE212 was, but maybe that’s just my memory fading or me getting older …

Anyway, I’ve decided to take the evening off from the TMA and catch up on some other stuff, like finishing the book I’m reading at the moment – Philip K. Dick’s Counter-Clock World. I’ve recently started re-reading his novels and stories after not having done so since I was a teenager with the exception of the couple that have been turned into films. They make me remember the bright yellow Gollancz SF jackets of the 1970s that his books came in from the local library and that’s a pleasant memory. His books are just as challenging to read as they ever were, however!

Or I could just go and watch the television …

Windsor Races

A number of us from Software AG went to Windsor Races last night. Two firsts for me:

  • Both of the horses I backed came in second (on the only other occasion I went racing I didn’t have a horse finish higher than 5th) so I was able to experience collecting winnings from the bookmakers. My undoubted skill netted a tidy profit of £4. I bet the bookies are really scared now!
  • I had a chance to play with my new telephoto lens. This was more enjoyable than backing the horses if I’m honest.

The photograph below is my favourite from the evening’s sport. If I’ve figured out the racecard correctly, it’s Top Town Girl, owned by Landmark Racing Limited and ridden by Seb Sanders, finishing 4th in the K & L Gates Handicap Stakes.

Top Town Girl

Top Town Girl

ED209 – Week 18

Tonight, I was looking forward to having a play with the neural networks software – but the DVD drive on my computer has stopped working! Apparently my wife noticed this a few days ago but failed to mention it. Sigh. Still, it does mean I can nip down to Maplins or PC World or Staples and have a look at some new toys.

I mention Staples, as although both of the other places have lots more fun gadgets to play with (and there’s only so much excitement I can get – no, anyone can get from chairs and desks and filing cabinets), the last couple of times I’ve bought something for the PC it’s been from Staples as they’ve been the cheapest and the friendliest too.

The reading on ED209 was pretty interesting this week and the style of the book seems (so far) to be in marked contrast from the first two. Suddenly, I feel as if I’m back on a psychology course, rather than something primarily aimed at educators and people who want to work with children (I’m neither).

I suppose I relate more easily to the cognitive aspects of psychology as its far closer in concept to computing and the way we sometimes talk about software systems. I remember on DSE212 a couple of years ago getting terribly excited by one of the models of consciousness and comparing it to the way enterprise service buses work.

Anyway, my  notes for the first chapter of book 3 are here. Now, let’s see if I can fix that wretched DVD drive …

East Midlands Airport

I used to love flying from East Midlands Airport around 10 or so years ago. I’m here this morning, but the experience is rather like being in the waiting room for hell these days. Apart from the fact that it’s noisy and crowded, even at 5.45 am (which I can just about cope with), Manchester Airports Group who own it these days have simply turned it into one big method of extracting money from the passengers.

I’ve paid the best part of £20, pre-booked, for around 14 hours in the long stay car park (a decade ago it was around £5 for the day in the short stay in front of the terminal – I think it’s nearer £30 now) and the decidedly average breakfast I’ve just eaten had an extra 8 pence charged on top of the £6.45 for a “Great British Breakfast” (without a drink), for a meager sachet of ketchup.

Then there’s the way you’re forced to wind your way through ‘duty free’ once you get past the security checks and the way the departure boards exhort you to ‘relax and shop’ – not two words that really go together in my experience.

But at least they’ve dropped all that ‘Nottingham East Midlands Airport’ nonsense they went in for when they bought it. Recognising Derby and Leicester in the airport logo is a much smarter idea, as Derby is the closest city and the airport is in Leicestershire.

I even prefer Heathrow and Stansted these days to this truly awful place. At least there is some semblance of competition for services at those airports and for about the same price as a not so great British breakfast at East Midlands Airport, you can get a really nice one with a drink at Chez Gerard’s, Stansted.

Still, today can only get better. And I am flying to Glasgow, which had a civilised airport the last time I went there.

6.30am – Someone else has just walked past me grumbling about the ‘relax and shop’ messages on the departure boards. See, it’s not just me …

ED209 – Week 16

Another week, another chapter … and indeed, another book completed. With next week being an assignment week (that’s come round again quickly), it means I’m now half-way through the course. Yay!

Young consumers was an interesting chapter to end the section on identity with. While I found it quite tough going in places (too much name dropping and not enough explanation in places rather like a couple of earlier chapters on the course), the section relating consumption to three theories of identity (Erikson, Tajfel and social constructionism) was very well done and would seem to give some real meat for writing an essay in the exam should the topic come up.

TMA04 next. I’ve already started by reading and re-reading the assignment brief (it’s long and fairly complex) as well as digging out the report template that I used on my previous two OU psychology courses. I’ve even started annotating the transcript of the two interviews we have to listen to and analyse.

Unlike essay questions, I’m pretty confident about how long it will take me to do it as the process is rather more mechanical. However, I don’t believe for a moment the OU estimate of 11 hours is anything like correct for me. Somewhere between 15 and 20 hours for the pace at which I write and think will probably be closer to the mark.

I’m also going to be taking a peek at book 3 this week as well, but I’ve decided not to worry about the seen question on book 4 until I get through TMA04 and 05 at the earliest and I may even follow the course calendar and not even look at it until after TMA06! I promise to confess here if I do get tempted to skip ahead though. With the seen question being worth 1/3rd of the marks on the final exam it is a real temptation to spend even more time on it than the course calendar suggests is necessary.


Having spent a couple of days away over this bank holiday weekend, I’ve had a chance to catch up on some reading that isn’t directly connected to my OU course. Irrationality, by Stuart Sutherland was a book that was given to me for my last birthday and it’s proved to be an enjoyable read. I particularly enjoyed chapter 15 – ‘Misinterpreting the evidence’ and the first example he gives. I think I’ll try it out on the next internal sales meeting I talk to.

If I toss a coin six times, which sequence is most likely to occur?

1. T T T T T T

2. T T T H H H

3. T H H T T H

Most people pick sequence number 3, but, of course, each sequence is equally likely to occur. There are 64 possible sequences and each coin toss results in a 50% probability of a head or tail. And, crucially, a coin has no memory for previous events!

I also really liked his debunking of psychoanalysis in ‘Mistaking the cause’ as an example of the “like-causes-like” fallacy. But it was his application of the same fallacy to the assertion that foods high in cholesterol cause high blood cholesterol readings that made me sit up and take notice, being someone who feels guilty about putting butter on toast (it tastes nicer than margarine) and eating the occasional spoonful of clotted cream with a scone and jam. Indeed, he concludes the chapter with the moral “Eat what you fancy”.

So, that’s what I’ll do then!

On a train

I’m on a train again this morning on my way to a meeting in Reading. I’d meant to bring the materials for TMA04 with me but didn’t remember to pick them up from the study at 6am this morning. D’oh.

While TMA04 doesn’t seem that different in concept to the report assignments on DSE212 or the report I had to write for DXR222 there’s an awful lot of information to read and make sense of. It involves coding and analysing a couple of self-concept interviews and while I’m fairly confident I can do the assignment reasonably well, it does look as if there might be a bit more to it than meets the eye on first inspection.

As I prepared for today’s business meeting in Reading last night and I’m without my ED209 stuff on the train, and it’s still early, and I didn’t sleep well last night (getting my excuses in early, you see), I’ve just found myself thinking about my father again. The last time I saw him was Boxing Day 2007. He died a few days later, unexpectedly. I’ve been trying to remember some of the things we did together as a way of turning my thoughts to more positive things. It’s just random stuff really, but it helps with the loss I feel.

  • “Helping” him and his father build the greenhouse in 1969, aged 5. It’s still there today and in good order. I hope to be harvesting tomatoes from it later in the year, even though I don’t like them.
  • Going trout fishing with him aged 12 or 13. Although he and my brother were accomplished anglers, I never once caught anything.
  • Watching bike racing at Donnington Park, in the era of Ron Haslam (the local boy made good) and Randy Mamola (the flash American wheelie king).
  • A conversation with him and a family friend in 1976, before the Derby v Manchester Utd cup semi-final, making plans to go to Wembley for the final. Derby lost against all expectations, so we didn’t get to go after all.
  • Dad calling Emily a “proper nana” when she was small, and Emily indignantly replying that she wasn’t a banana, but a little girl.

Time to look at my notes for today again I think. Sometimes professionalism is all there is.

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