MST209 – still doing things

Bit quiet on the MST209 front recently, but I’ve been concentrating on some career stuff for a bit. Had a reasonably busy weekend with it though, so probably time for a quick update.

First tutorial on Saturday morning just gone. Bit of a change as it was the first non mid week tutorial I’ve had during my OU experience, and also the first I couldn’t walk to. Took the car this time, but think I should be able to bike it OK once I’ve got the bike back on the road. Reasonably low turnout of about 8 people. Was interesting to find out about the problems with MSXR209 being overly full, could well make all this time and money a bit redundant if I can’t get on it as MST209 only counts for my degree if I do that as well. Can’t say I’m particularly happy about it, and think I’ll be writing to the OU to find out what they’re doing about it. There seems to be quite a bit of posting on the forums about it, but no one appears to be able to make a proper official statement. Unfortunately I couldn’t book on the course too early as I need to wait for various work dates to be announced to make sure I can have time off. Hopefully the rumours of extra spaces with amount to something and I can book on.

On the bright side, we went through a number of examples related to the TMA01, and the tutor showed us a few tricks to speed things up (always handy for the exam). And as always a different explanation usually helps things make more sense. Was also good to get an idea of the sort of language and proof required for the TMAs. Looks like MST209 is slightly less rigorous than M208 was in that area.

Then decided on Sunday that I’d better buckle down and finish typing up TMA01, and also do the mathcad parts. First suprise was that we have a new version of Mathcad for MST209, verson 14 this time. Luckily it looks like this will still run on my venerable virtual Windows XP install running under Parallels Desktop. One major difference is that you now have to ‘license’ it with a 3rd party company who want various pieces of personal inf0rmation. I don’t know about my fellow students but I’m not happy about having to hand over personal data to a 3rd party in order to do a compulsory part of my OU course. In case anyone else isn’t happy with this, the site in question doesn’t check the details or mail you anything to confirm. So you can provide some generic information and still carry on. The license is more restrictive than the version 2001i that came with MST121/MS221 as it claims to only allow you to run it on one machine, which will be a pain as I got used to having it installed at home, and then a copy at work for when I print out my TMA submissions. Not given it a go yet, but that’s one of this weeks tasks. Other than that it was just another frustrating case of the bad user interface (major mathcad tip, learn the keyboard shortcuts, it really does make it nicer) and then hitting things until it looked nice.

Dropping back into LaTex as a joy, all came back nice and quickly. Just updated my LaTex TMA template, and made good use of Detexify for anything I couldn’t remember

The actual maths content has been great so far. The revision sections were great for getting back into things after 9 months off from studying. Differential equations were well explained, and combined with some info from the tutorial make a bit more sense now (famous last words). And the vector stuff follows on nicely from MS221 as well. I’ve been reading through section 2 – Statics – and that looks like my sort of things as well, always preferred Mechanics back at A-Level mathematics.


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