Thursday, 21 January 2010

Database and Spreadsheet Files

The people who produce the textbooks you have for Spreadsheets and Databases have put a bunch of free resource files online.

These might be handy to use rather than having to type stuff in by hand.

The files are organised by editions of the book - you have the third edition of both books. It doesn't mean the other files wouldn't be useful or interesting, just that they might not be quite so useful or interesting.

Dude, where's my (open) workbench?

Yes, it's here.

A couple of other places to look for some background sorta stuff might be:

Wikipedia: Open Workbench
Comparing open workbench with microsoft project
Another comparison perhaps

Monday, 18 January 2010

Hannah says showing formulae view is easy

Someone's going to have forgotten how to do this...

Hannah says here's the way to do it:
  1. is your sheet saved? Good.
  2. hold the shift key down. Don't let it go, even if a bee is about to land on your nose.
  3. look at the top left hand corner of the keyboard. Find the Esc key. DON'T TOUCH IT
  4. look underneath it. You'll find a wierd looking key that only Mr Bagshaw (and other sad geeks) know the name of
  5. that's the key you want
  6. I call it the Star Wars button because I don't have a better name for it
  7. still holding shift down? Good
  8. tap - ONCE - the Star Wars button. Feel the force? Excellent!
  9. see the formulae? Kewl!

To toggle back again all you need to do is Shift-Star Wars and it'll go back again.

You might need to twiddle around with column widths to show the formulae of course. Beware if you try and toggle back - you'd be better off saving under a different file name before you try and toggle back if you've changed too many column widths.

Hannah says hands that do dishes, they can be as soft as your face...

Spreadsheets Markscheme...

Some pointers:

Section G - Testing:
Make sure you test both the individual inputs and the whole system. There are 8 marks - 4 are for individual things; 4 are for the whole system testing.

You do need to provide some screenshots. But - don't overdo it. The exam board says you don't need to screenshot absolutely everything if things are very similar.

Section H - Implementation:
This isn't about how you did it - you don't need to show that.

Row 1 - Management: show that you've used sensible filenames, macro names, names for cell ranges. You could also show stuff like backups etc... (2 marks)
Row 2 - System: show evidence that you've made it and that it works! Then do a section linking specifically to client needs - how does it meet each of them? This will lift stuff heavily from your prep work - it may even be close to word to word. But it's worth a mark... (3 marks)
Row 3 - Formulae: it's better to use formula view prints rather than screenshots to show the formulae. For the third mark, annotate the prints to show how they help you meet the client needs (yes, this may seem a bit repetitive). (3 marks)
Row 4 - Complex Features: tell us which complex features you've used and, for the third mark, how they help you meet the client needs in an appropriate way (maybe: link back to client skills section?) (3 marks)
Row 5 - Macros: you need prints of your macro code (go Alt-F11) annotated (by hand is fine) to show what macros do. (2 marks)
Row 6 - Reusability: you'll either need to save it as a template or make sure that it can be cleared and reused - possibly saving client data. Use screenshots to show this if it's stuff you haven't already included anywhere else, but don't use unnecessary sceenshots. You can explain this section just as well.
Row 7 - Outputs: explain how your outputs help meet client needs. The key word is explain. Outputs can be to the screen (i.e. screenshots) or to the printer. Link directly to numbered client needs.

Section I - Timeplan:
This is the section j from the old style markscheme. You need to annotate your timeplan to show how you actually spent your time. To get the second mark you need to explain any alterations you had to make (and make sure there are some...)

Section J - Evaluations:
We don't have a specific markscheme section for this yet. We think it's the old sections j, k and the spg marks.

Row 1 - Evaluation of solution: Use your evaluation criteria and client needs - have these been met? Prove this with screenshots. Then identify areas which could be developed/improved.
Row 2 - Evaluation of own performance: how good were you? Yes, I know this is really awkward to do. Make sure you've clearly mentioned: strengths, weaknesses and areas for your own development
Row 3 - the SPAG: you'll either get these or you won't. They do like technical terms - so try not to say "stuff" too much.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I, Science

Student science magazine with some interesting layout etc...

Might be useful if anyone's still needing that sort of thing.

Internet Explorer? Not a good idea...

The German government has actually gone to the lengths of warning people not to use IE - and to suggest the use of an alternative instead.


There are major holes (again...) in all versions of IE from 6 onwards. Yes, you can block them partly on a temporary basis, but setting security to high tends to me

The German government has warned web users to find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect security.

The warning from the Federal Office for Information Security comes after Microsoft admitted IE was the weak link in recent attacks on Google's up your ability to browse websites.

You might want to consider Opera, Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox. The thing is, they're better anyways...

e2a: 18/1/10 - looks like France has issued the same sort of warning now

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Cars, the DVLA, MID and more about Cars

As an example of a regulatory authority for Jan10 unit 1, the DVLA and it's associated organisations is worth a look if you haven't already got all your content sorted.

Directgov - how to tax your vehicle is where I started

From there I found out how to tax my vehicle online from where I found out:
Insurance, MOT and entitlement to disability exemption are checked electronically during the application. A tax disc and receipt for payment is posted to you within five working days.

Valid insurance on the date you want the tax disc to come into force (or the date you apply, if this is later) is checked on the Motor Insurance Database (MID) run by the Motor Insurers Bureau. If your vehicle tax and insurance are due at the same time or if you’ve recently changed your insurance company, there may be problems checking insurance while waiting for the MID to update.

Before you tax, you can make an online check to see if the MID has updated. The result will apply only to the day you make your check.

...which goes someway to telling me how they use ICT.

I then looked at the DVLA site where I actually do the registering for car tax. The Apply for a tax disc page tells me:
The Motor Insurance Database (MID) holds insurance details of vehicles. You can check if your vehicle is on the database today by visiting their website at Please note, to complete a relicensing transaction valid insurance needs to be on the database on the day the new tax disc comes into force.
...which shows me that there are clearly a number of databases which are linked up and hold an awful lot of information about cars and their drivers. You'll learn more about databases in Unit 3, but for now just accept that you can hold a lot of data in databases and that different databases in different agencies can "talk" to each other to do this sort of thing. But that that requires skill in using computers.

I also checked the DVLA FAQ. Question 4 tells me:
How do you check Insurance, MoT Certificates and GVT Certificates?

When you apply for a tax disc online or by using our telephone service, the vehicle's insurance will be electronically checked with the Motor Insurance Database (MID), run by the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB)

MoT Certificates and GVT Certificates will also be checked electronically with the MoT Database. Only customers with an electronic MoT Certificate or GVT Certificate are eligible to use this service.
From all this stuff I got to various other places:
  • askMID, where I can check if my vehicle is insured (if I could remember the number plate anyway...)
  • the VOSN MOTinfo page, where I can check if I have a valid MOT
  • the Directgov page where I can report a vehicle which I believe isn't registered in an anonymous way. This is an interesting idea - I imagine it means they get more reports made and that they can quickly check the data against their databases?
  • and the VOSA main page, which links to a little you tube video about how they're helping to save lives on the road - which is probably how you can link all of this to the Jan10 paper. You might find some of the linked videos useful as well.
Links to safety: keeps uninsured drivers off the road who are more likely to cause accidents and who push up insurance costs for all other drivers (you could probably find figures on this); allows police to check details of vehicles quickly and pull drivers without insurance/tax etc...; if vehicles are not taxed the DVLA knows where they were last held and can send people to check on them - untaxed vehicles more likely to be used dangerously perhaps?; details can be checked if you're going to buy a car - including mileage - which might reduce the possibility of criminals "clocking" a vehicle or selling one which is dangerous having been in an accident and written off etc..

Pros: quick, links up databases, stops people without insurance getting vehicles taxed, allows increased reporting of taxed vehicles, saves money as it doesn't need people to do this any more, saves time as I don't have to queue in the post office

Cons: if the database is wrong then I can't tax my car, the system's only as good as the data in it, data has to be checked, which takes time and costs money, cost to set up, problems with data getting lost - all my personal details could be on their databases, privacy issues, data protection issues