If you wonder where I’ve been for the last year and more, I’ve been studying part time at University of the West of Scotland. Thankfully I’m glad to only have one more year part time to go, however this past trimester I was able to hear a presentation on this brand new MSc in Smart Networks. This is the most up to date qualification with everything that companies need now. It includes Cloud Computing, Wireless networks, Smartphone Apps, and so much more that is up to date and forward thinking. More info on this is available from http://www.uws.ac.uk and it will be delivered at the Paisley Campus.
Happy New Year to everyone – sorry for the delay but I have been in the midst of studying for Final Exams. Today I sat Windows Domain Administration and was so glad I had put in the amount of days and hours to study it. The next exam is next week so again I’ll be in front of the computer screen doing all the preparation for that. Then I have a long weekend before studying the last two modules for my Bachelor’s Degree.
Having studied this part time over the last six or so years I would strongly advise unemployed people interested in technology to pop into their local college/university and see what modules they can study – especially if they have never done so before. For those who have the opportunity to do a full time course will not face the same stress to fit in full time jobs etc with full time studying, however, in this day and age it is unrealistic to think that full time students don’t have to take on some sort of work to finance their studies. However, the fact still remains that class time for full time students is at times almost double that of part time students. It is definitely worth using the time to learn as much as possible, and try and get some voluntary work in order to gain invaluable experience. Placements will also provide this kind of experience, though most companies look for more than two years. Extra certification can help land a job, but experience is still vital to land a great job at the end of the studies.
For me, I return to the books having increased my experience through voluntary work at the church I attend. I also help friends out from time to time with various issues to do with networks, website and more and all of this has come because of my studies at University. So studies and experiences have gone hand in hand to enable me to increase my usefulness.
During the past few years a number of people have been caught out by the abrupt end of their free trial of Microsoft Office software. Most have been blissfully ignorant of the messages that they only had a 60 day trial version, and once that ran out they lost access to all the documents they had saved. One or two went on to buy Microsoft Office complaining about the cost of it, while others didn’t have the money to pay for it. As someone who spends just about all day and night on computers I offered advice to those in this position to download OpenOffice – a free alternative to Microsoft Office, and one that would allow them to open at least some of the files they thought they had lost. I did however download it for a couple of people who have used it many times since.
Recently the whole argument of free software has been brought to my attention as much of what is available has been developed into real alternatives to their paid counterparts. I came across the Free Software Foundation which promotes both the use and development of free software. In fact they state that the best way to support their not-for-profit organisation is to:
“…use free software on your own computer and advocate within your business or community for others to adopt it.”
Here in the UK and also in the USA where the recession still has somewhat of a stranglehold on business and commerce, free software could well be all many will be able to afford, if they can afford a computer in the first place. The rise of the tablet computers, netbooks and smartphones has opened up access to the internet to many who would otherwise not be able to afford it, however, the importance of free software seems to be increasing as the cost of living takes away any spare money for paid alternatives.
There are so many ways to get free software these days from open source to shareware and also trial software. Probably the most comprehensive list I have ever come across is this one from Money Saving Expert, edited by Martin Lewis. Included are a few office alternatives, audio packages, photo and image editing packages and more. As I posted earlier if you are a student in a University that is signed up with Microsoft you can also access lots of free Microsoft packages.
One of the modules I have opted to take this year at uni is Web Services. Having had a hand in updating websites and creating a few, I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to look at ways I can learn more about one of the main voluntary work tasks that I “fell” into a few years back. There are the usual requirements to do coursework, classwork, study for an exam etc etc. As I have discovered the bulk of webservices all seem to centre around XML and applications. Having done some digging around on YouTube I came across these videos from Adam Khoury. If you get a chance they are well worth checking out.
I also did a bit of checking up on free xml editor programs and decided to go for CAM Editor, which I then downloaded to my computer so I can get on with the business of setting up XML files and validation files. Hopefully I’ll even be able to write WSDL files which will work in the coursework that I am doing with a fellow student. One thing is certain, I never dreamed I would end up doing any of this kind of stuff. It never ceases to amaze me what God will do with our potential if we will overcome our fear and let Him.
Recently I received a phone call from someone who informed me that my operating system had errors in it. I told the person on the other end of the phone I didn’t believe him and was not interested in what he was selling. He went on to tell me that he had all my information and proceeded to tell me my name, address and the type of operating system I had. I asked him if Microsoft was aware that he was calling people to inform them that there were problems with their operating system, to which he responded by putting the phone down.
Up and down the country people are being taken in by this type of call. Whether these people say that there is a problem with your computer, operating system, or that there is a virus in the area they are all after one thing – your money. A couple of years ago one of my less computer savvy friends got woken up by this type of call around 8am on a Saturday morning. She thought the person was being really helpful and followed the instructions she was given to download certain things and allow the caller access to her computer. The following day I checked out the settings and informed her that the people she had thought were being ‘helpful’ had helped themselves to £70 of her money, and taken over her computer in the process. Armed with her bank details they could then go ahead and do untold damage to her bank account. Thankfully, though devastated, she stopped her bank card and the payment of £70 and never heard from them again.
If anyone calls wanting you to download anything on your computer to help it run better, ask them their name, company, phone number, then thank them and let them know you will be passing their details to the fraud squad!! My friend wishes she had done so as it cost her another £50 to have her computer restored to factory settings.
There are many perks to being a student including student discounts, access to expensive equipment for studying purposes, long holidays and more. Possibly one of the best things is the cut price and even free software available from vendors such as Microsoft who like students to get to know their products. One such website which offers free Microsoft Software is Dreamspark.com. All you need to do is create an account, verify you are a student and then download the products.
So, if you are studying full time or part time, don’t miss out on free software – it’s a unique opportunity to find out what products suit you best.