Archive for ‘Course’

May 27, 2010


I’m three weeks into my course now so I thought I’d give a little update. Week 1 was a bit frantic because I needed to get a monitor for my PC. A friend of mine said they could loan me one but when I got it home it turned out it required a power supply rather than just a power lead like most monitors these days. Unfortunately they were unable to track down the power supply for it. This was late afternoon on the Saturday and Monday was a bank holiday so I wasn’t able to sort it out until Tuesday. In the end, I remembered that my Dad had an old CRT monitor that he said he was going to throw out, but he hadn’t, so I decided that that would do.

With the PC now set up, it was time to install the course work. As I said before, the course materials are not mac compatible, but after much reading on the OU forum I found that most of it was. The OU use an email/forum client called FirstClass and there is actually a mac version of it. Also, the editor the OU was using for this course was NVU. I already knew that there is a mac version of NVU but I didn’t install it cos I thought I’d be doing everything on the PC. The only thing that remained was the T183 CD-ROM. What was on there? I installed it to find that it had a program showing some graphic examples for use during lesson 4 and a bunch of folders containing other examples and images. Those folders could easily be copied over to the mac, so actually, it’s only the lesson 4 stuff that I need the PC for! I was a bit miffed to be honest cos it took me most of the evening to find that out. All that messing about with the monitor and PC and I don’t really need it until week 4.

I was now ready to start and I had a bit of catching up to do, but FirstClass was gonna slow me down first. It is an awful forum system. Everything about it is just, well, awful. The interface is so archaic that it took me a while to get to grips with it. I’m used to forums that have a list of topics, threads within those topics, and sequential posts within those threads. FirstClass has everything separate. I could go on and on about how bad it is but I don’t want to bore you any more than I have already. The only good thing about it is that it has a web publishing folder that you can upload your work to. This provides you with a unique URL so that you can share your work with other students.

With most hurdles overcome, I was able to crack on through the course. Sadly, this course relies heavily on NVU, a WYSIWYG editor, and what I’ve done so far feels like an NVU tutorial. To be honest I’d rather use another editor but I feel that if I stick with NVU I’ll get the same results as everybody else. NVU is quite buggy though and I discovered that it hasn’t been updated since 2005, but there is a new version albeit under another name, Kompozer, and I’ve found that to be a bit more stable.

What with all that, and the fact that the course is using Tables to demonstrate web page layout, I’ve become quite disillusioned with it. I’m hoping for more exciting content in the forthcoming weeks.

April 29, 2010

Starter For Ten, No Conferring*

I registered for my first course this week. It is the Open University course T183 – Design and the Web I mentioned in my previous post. It’s a ten week online course which, while being a fairly basic introduction to design principles, should at least get me back into ‘learning’ mode!

The course material is not compatible with the Mac though so I have to use a PC. One of the ‘benefits’ of my office closure was that they were throwing away a bunch of PC’s so I grabbed one in case I might need it one day. That day has arrived. However, they weren’t being so generous as to supply the monitor with it, so I need to get one quickly. I’m comforted by the fact that I can use the 2nd monitor with the Mac when I’m not using the PC so that’s a nice little side benefit.

So, onwards and upwards. Keep watching for further posts throughout the course.

*The title comes from the University Challenge; “Your starter for 10” became the programme’s most famous catchphrase. As it happens, my course is worth 10 points too!