Thursday, 17 September 2009

Hello, hello. Its good to be back, its good to be back...

...and so begins one of the most popular songs of all time! Its also an apt opening title to use in this, the opening blog of the second (and final) year of the HND. I am definately glad to be back to start a fresh year after just scraping throught the final few months of the first year.

There was a tremendous feeling of deja vu as I tentatively walked (or more accurately power walked) to the door of the classroom this morning. I was experiencing some of the same feelings as this time last year - what did the year have in store? had I forgot anything? Would I be able to cope with the workload? I'm pleased to say that any negative feelings soon left after entering the now all to familar classroom and taking up my seat alongside my fellow students. It was almost like I hadn't been away for the 4 or so months since I submitted my final assignment and before too long the old camaraderie was back.

The summer break definitely came at the right time for me, as previously mentioned I barely scraped through the final few months due to health issues and personal/work problems on top of my own time management issues. I've used the time constructively to sort myself out and hopefully put all of these issues to bed and will use this year as a clean slate and a chance to really show what I can do.

My goals for this year haven't changed from those I listed in my final journal entry from last year, Back to the start:
  • 100% attendance – to help reduce the possibility of falling behind with my work,
  • Improve my punctuality,
  • Properly structure my self study time to maximize the output,
  • Achieve at least a merit for all my assignments at the first time of asking

I believe these are all perfectly achievable goals and as I am currently leaning towards completing a third year of study in order to top up my HND to a full a degree, these must be the bare minimum that I achieve this year.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

My SMLP Resources

The following are resources that intend to use during the SMLP. As I’ve no prior experience with either PHP or MYSQL I’ve tried to find plain English texts and web sites to help get me started and that I can refer to to quickly and easily when comes to implementing what I have learned.

Web Based Resources

  • - The MySQL page is included for the same reasons as - I believe both sites will become invaluable resources both during the SMLP and in my future career as a web designer.

  • - I plan to use this site for its validation tools and its accessibility guidelines to ensure that I'm implementing PHP and MySQL in a standards compliant manner.

  • - This site provides straightforward, easy to follow tutorials on apretty much every aspect of web design and should prove useful when starting out and indeed implenting more advance uses of PHP and MySQL.

  • - Boasting some 85,851 members, this forum based site should prove invaluable should I encounter any major headaches whilst learning and implementing PHP and MySQL.

  • - This site has been recommended by last years 2nd years and again should prove an invaluble resource not only for the SMLP but also for the future as it covers not on PHP and MySQl, but also Javascript and search engine optimisation amongst other aspects of web design.

Print Based Resources

  • PHP 5 in Easy Steps - This is a book that came highly recommended by last years second year students for it's simple, easy to follow text and layout. I aim to use this alongside the companinion book SQL in Easy Steps as well as the online tutorials found at and, to give myself a basic understanding of the languages.

  • SQL in Easy Steps - Whilst PHP 5 in Easy steps book does incorparate MySQL , I feel it would be beneficial to have a dedicated resource to expand my understanding of the language. Again it shall be used in conjunction with online tutorials and other texts.

  • PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide
    This book is described as "indispensable for intermedite to advanced level web designers". I aim to use it to expand my knowledge and understanding obtained in the aforementioned texts and tutorials to hopefully implement new ideas and practises when designing dynamic web pages.

This is by no means a definitive list of resources, as I'm sure during the course of the SMLP I shall encounter more and more useful print and web based resources, they are however I feel a good place to start.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Self Managed Learning Plan Proposal – PHP/MYSQL

After I’ve finished my studies, I would like to be able to regard myself as an “all rounder” rather being classed as either a designer or a builder. My long term goal is to be working freelance or running my own design studio offering affordable web and print solutions to small businesses, up-and-coming bands etc.

Obviously these goals will not be obtained over night. Immediately after the course ends, I intend to be working for an established company gaining both vital experience and the additional skills. I shall use these newly aqquired skills to my make long term goals a reality. Given the current economic climate and the number of people competing for work, I believe being an “all rounder” will give me an advantage when applying for vacancies within the industry.

By simply typing the words “web” and “developer” into a careers search engine such as or and you will be presented with well over 500 results. Whilst the job descriptions/roles differ slightly from company to company, there does appear to be 2 common skills required (after XHTML and CSS) which links them together – “PHP” and “MySQL”.

PHP is a form of scripting language utilised by web developers to create dynamic web pages whilst MYSQL is a relational database management system which is most commonly found on Web Servers though can be used for a variety of applications.

By having experience of these languages under my belt, not only do I believe I shall be more employable, I also feel that they will help unleash creativity when creating solutions to clients briefs as I would not be restricted to creating solutions purely to the confinements of XHTML and CSS.