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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

...and we're here!

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Edited by Beth Loft, Thursday, 6 Oct 2016, 22:07

After a wonderful couple of weeks exploring the country on our journey south we arrived at our winter base a couple of days ago. Since that time it has been a whirl of settling in, setting up IT provision, long autumnal walks in blazing sunshine, and a nasty case of Study Avoidance. This last has been capably enabled by the courier company that took my course mailing back to base.

Yes. All the other AA100 students are beavering away but I have no books, CDs or DVDs.

I'm sure all will come well in the end. 

Yes, I do have access to online copies but frankly I prefer to use the excuse. When all be said and done, I am still scared of anything involving that nasty "Arts" word!


Shall we have a gratuitous dog shot? Meet Nell.

Nell the Border Collie out on a country walk

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

...and we're off!

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No, not the start of the course but it's D-day (Departure) tomorrow and we are just locking up the house and will sleep in the RV overnight at the ferry terminal in readiness for an early start on the first boat tomorrow. It's goodbye to my lovely island for a while and hello to studying on four wheels for the next several months.

I must go. The Wi-fi hub needs to go into the van now and the power is about to be switched off. I'm saying goodbye to my desktop machine too and oh, boy, am I ever going to miss it.

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

Free to Roam

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Yesterday was both busy and trying but it was certainly productive and rewarding. The morning vanished into a whirl of van-packing tasks as the wind had died down and keeping the van door open without it blowing off and landing on Stronsay finally became a possibility. I am trying to quell the rising tide of panic in my chest --  though so little has been done, so much remains to be done, and very little time is left in which to do it.

The afternoon was much more my kind of thing - I spent it setting up the Macbook ready for me to use for my studies. We have had the laptop for some few years now but I have formerly managed not to engage with it. My partner bought it mainly to assist in developing a Mac version of the software that he publishes. The general idea was that we could both become Mac-friendly. So far it has been used mainly for watching films in bed...

I created a profile and the first thing that I did was to install my free student license of Roboform Everywhere. I have long been a Roboform user and doubt that I could now function without it. Roborm is the essential password manager, making things simpler in this security-conscious day and age. Previously we have felt that the Everywhere license was a financial  step too far for us but now that I am a bona fide student... yep, go for it!

Next I set up Google Drive to work with my OU Google email and apps account. 

I added Microsoft One Note and the One Note Web Clipper, though need not have bothered, as it turned out.

My desktop machine has a bona fide licensed copy of Office 2010 but the laptop lacked an Office-compatible suite.  The Google stuff is OK in an emergency, I find, but it soon frustrates me with its comparative lack of facility. We discussed Open Office and Libre before deciding to look for a Student Discount on an up to date copy of Office for the lappie. 

The information here at the OU is very fuddled. There is plenty of it available, most of it old and all of it conflicting. All trails here led me to http://open.ac.onthehub.com/ where the instructions here failed to match what happened on screen and finally I drew a blank.

Well, the offer looked pretty good at £59.99 for four years. It could only make sense to jump in and buy it, so I put my squeaky-clean brand-new and shiny OU email address to use and very quickly had an online Office 365 account and a full Office suite downloaded to the Macbook. Hurrah! 

But... wait a minute... I hadn't paid any money! Sixty quid had not left my sticky little paws. Eh?

Believe it or not it took well over an hour to figure this out. We actually both spent time trying to find out how and when I would pay for this stuff. My partner was of the belief that there would be a 30 Day Trial period and then I would pay. No... I muttered.. nooooo.... I think it's actually free. I mean, with a Trial, I would have entered my card details, wouldn't I?

Eventually I managed to confirm it:  Students with OU academic email addresses get Microsoft Office for free. What is more, it can be installed on up to 5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets and 5 phones.

If this is as well-kept secret as it appears to be then I think it my duty to put the news out there. Go get it.

Jet Brains is free for student use too. Not relevant probably to the majority of AA100 students but some of us enjoy geeking in our spare time, so that was loaded too.

I am going to write a note over there -->> if and when I can recall how the blurb gets there. The summary of which will be: some students appear to fear commenting on Open blogs. I refuse to lock mine down but do not wish to limit the possibility of comments so, please, if you are one of those,do  email me instead. I am eb2 on the usual OU email domain.

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

Sobering up

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Edited by Beth Loft, Sunday, 11 Sep 2016, 12:36

Yesterday's realisation that we have (had!) just two weeks to go before leaving the island for the winter has galvanised us into action. We have been out to look at the RV with a cold hard stare, a retractable tape measure, and a notebook.

Our first task was to determine which of our "Really Useful" boxes will fit into the skirt lockers and what is the most useful configuration of said boxes. Then the same routine with the under-bed storage area. My follow-on activity now is to ensure that we have sufficient empty boxes of the right dimensions, bring them into the house and ready them for packing over the coming days.

That is the easy part. The harder task is listing what we want need to have with us and what items are to be stored where. I shall soon have lists coming out of my ears.

I have made a mental note that I need to accommodate one empty box that will receive my OU mailing when we arrive on site and this led to a more concentrated examination of my "study area". I mean... there isn't one. I will be studying at the dinette table, the same area where I shall prepare meals and we will eat them. The same area where we will spend our evenings with Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit or Lego. The same area where Mr L will site his laptop for maintaining his software product and supporting his users.

It is clear to me that I have set myself a distinct challenge and that I will certainly have to brush up on my organisation and tidying skills. I see no way forward other than to dedicate one of my clip top storage boxes to "Beth's OU" and ensure that (a) everything fits into it and (b) it is properly used and stored readily at hand. For each study period I shall have to unearth the box, unpack it, lay out my work area, get stuck in, then reverse the process when done.

Self-discipline is not my strong point and it is difficult to teach this old dog new tricks.

So, this led to some fairly deep thinking about my approach to study. In the past my study habits have been poor. They need to improve but I am not certain that I am up to it.

There will be conflicting needs to address. I have already had a discussion that went along the lines of "I won't be able to sit for extended periods as I used to because it will be cold in the van and I shall need to keep moving." I recognised in that conversation that many advise 20 minute periods for intensive study, with a break in between. So I can get up, move around, make a coffee or take the dog for a walk up the hill and be a perfect student. I'm not sure I'd pack away my stuff though!

Overall I expect that the need to unpack and then pack away again will tend to encourage my very bad habit of studying infrequently but excessively. When I was doing my MSc, I would put the Beethoven Symphonies on the CD changer and sit and work my way through all nine before stopping. There is little wonder that I retained little of that learning.

So, yes, the overall giddiness of having registered at the last minute for a new degree is beginning to subside. The awful realisation that I have no plan for how I am going to make this work is sobering me up rapidly.

Now.. will my stuff fit into an 18 litre storage box or shall I require the 42 litre model? I definitely hope we won't be facing packing and lugging the 64 litre one...

..and why.... WHY is Mr L suggesting to me that we leave earlier than planned!

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

No. Really! Me?

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A thought has impacted.

AA100 - this may be the pivotal point that makes a Radio 4 listener of me.

Who'd a tho't it.

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

Being canny with the cash

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Edited by Beth Loft, Friday, 9 Sep 2016, 21:03

Made full use of the new free Wi-fi facility on the ferries today. I downloaded the phone app OU Anywhere and the four course books on my way to Kirkwall. Began to read book one on my way home and to make a few notes but not before acquiring a further app to make reading the books possible.

I reckon that I got my monies-worth from my Orkney Ferries ticket today!

Every little helps now that we are on Pay As You Go for the Internet access at home.

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

It's On

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Testing, 1...2.....1...2... testing

Yep. It's on. I woke this morning to find myself duly registered and in possession of one of these new-fangled Gmail/OU hybrid accounts. It would not let me be eb2. That's my proper email address but I have to have a nickname and cannot use the shorter and more memorable original, or so it seems. Bah!

Well, I should love to stay and play but unfortunately I have to go to town to cover a few outstanding tasks and now have a boat to catch. It will be late when I arrive home and so I shall return to poke around tomorrow.

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Hiding behind the camera, as usual

It's good to be back

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It has been a while. For a long time I believed that I would never do this again but here I am, fresh and eager to start all over again.

It was 1986 when I first applied to the OU to study A101. The module was full and so I studied my second choice of T102. I followed a different path to the Plan.

So, here I am, all these years later, ready to begin on AA100. 

Hoping to run into old friends along the way. 

May I say a large thank you to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, without whom etc. etc. etc. I mean it, it's heartfelt.

eb2

aka eb3

aka el-bibby

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