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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

MST121 - TMA03 done

Today I finished MST121 - TMA03, the calculus stuff of MST121, books C1,C2 and C3. The algebraic workout videos for this book are excellent. There are three of them and in these videos they show all the tricks required for doing the TMA03 exercises.

I prepared TMA01 and TMA02 with pen and paper. For this TMA I have used LaTeX. It's a tool with a rather steep learning curve and several required software packages but it's all free and there are zillions of tutorials on internet as well as a lot of examples. LaTeX is what the publishers use for typesetting mathematics books. LaTeX is based on TeX, which started as a one-man project by Don Knuth, one of the great mathematicians born in the previous century. I used TeXnic centre a free IDE for LaTeX. On the TeXnic website you'll find stuff to get started.

At least preparing TMA03 wasn't a last-minute job. That's a major, major ( epic ) win for me. Actually finishing something on time. A self-confidence booster. I have learned that having a good place to do studywork is an important resource. I went beyond that and have been experimenting with brainwave entrainment which is a technique to stimulate concentration and focus. It requires a good headphone and the right software. I currently use Atmosphere de Luxe in which you can 'hide' the brainwaves in nice atmospheric sounds. I use a sennheiser headphone with Active Noise reduction to cancel out noise elsewhere in the room.

I'll work this month on MS221 book A.

One more issue, although the Open University materials are excellent I wasn't really happy with MathCad. I am sure it cost me points already. At least with Vista it is a buggy mess. I upgraded to MathCad 14 which is a different experience altogether. Sufficient for coursework. It is still far from Mathematica which is now at version 7. Besides using Mathematica for my own research I use it as a final check on my TMA work before I send it in.

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