Free Java Course on Udemy

If you want to learn how to program in Java and you are an absolute beginner at programming, consider this course by John Purcell. It is absolutely free!

I am enrolled in it and so far, it’s organized and well done.

You may need a Udemy account before enrolling but if you already do, then this shouldn’t be an issue. If you do not, then registration takes minutes.

The course can be accessed here: Link

The uOttawa Schedule Generator – Generate schedules for your upcoming school year

I found this cool tool that uOttawa students can use to plan out their schedule before choosing their courses.

Written by David Schlachter for his introduction to software engineering course, it is a very useful program that helps students to optimize their schedule. It has helped me tremendously and I think other uOttawa students can benefit from this too.

A quick tour

Picking courses

The first step is to select the semester which you are selecting courses for. Then type in the course codes and pick the courses you want.

Screenshot_149

Modifying times

You may want to modify the time slots that are selected when the program generates your schedule. To do that, double click on a course that you want to modify and select or deselect check boxes to include or exclude the times.

Screenshot_150.png

Generating schedules and fine tuning

Lastly, when everything is good to go, select the generate schedule button and generate your schedules. If you haven’t specified your options enough, you can have over 1000 possibilities. Continue to edit your preferences to bring that number down.

You can also sort the schedules by a particular characteristic. The characteristics are the length of the days, when you start your day, when you end your day and the number of days you want to be at school per week.

Screenshot_151.png

Ready to start generating your schedule? The program can be downloaded on the creator’s GitHub with more in-depth instructions!

Course Sequence Planner: The Basic Process

This post contains the basics of what you need to use this.

The Process

To get started, you need to start on the course list page. The process is as follows:

  • Filling in the courses and their information
  • Configuring how to calculate the totals
  • Planning the sequence

Filling in Course Information

You will need to create a list of courses as required by your program so that they can be used in this sequence. For each course, you’ll need the following pieces of information:

Screenshot_105

  • Course code: The shorthand representation of the course
  • Course name: What the course is called
  • Course type: Labels if the course is compulsory or an elective. In the template, I have the codes ‘C’ for compulsory and ‘E’ for elective.
  • Credits: How many credits are being earned for completing the course successfully.
  • Status: Indicates if the course has been completed or is ongoing. In the template, I have ‘C’ for completed and ‘O’ for ongoing.

This is probably the most time-consuming part that you have to do but once you are done, the rest will be easy.

Configuring the totals

Given the information you have placed onto your course list, now is the time to determine your totals.

In the ‘Totals’ window, I’ve created a default template for you but you can and may need to adjust the categories to better reflect your requirements.

The totals requires nothing more than the =SUM() and =SUMIFS() functions. Here’s how to use it:

Begin with the =SUMIFS() function. This function adds cells if they meet a certain condition. For this eaxmple, I’ll show you how to add the total compulsory credits necessary to complete the major. Here are the steps:

Select the cell you want to edit and type in “=SUMIFS(”

Screenshot_107

You’ll need 3 criteria to fill in: sum_range, criteria_range and criteria.

Your sum_range is what will be added. In this case, you highlight the cells under the “credits column”.

Screenshot_108

Then you’ll need the column that the previous column will be compared to. That will be the column titled as “Credit type” (it is beside the credits column on the left).

Screenshot_111

Finally, you’ll need the criteria. This defines the condition that determines whether or not a cell is included in the sum. In this case, you would only want to include the compulsory courses, so type in “C”.

Your end result should be something like this:

Screenshot_112

Hit enter and your total should show up. Repeat the process for the other totals until it is complete.

For the totals in bold, you simply need the =SUM() function and add the necessary rows. Here’s an example of me added the credits earned below:

Screenshot_113

Here the earned credits cells are defined as Q3 and Q4, so I simply input it as such.

A quick way to specify which cells you would like to add is to click on a cell to edit, type in “=SUM(“ or “=SUMIFS(” and then click on a cell and drag your mouse up or down the column. You can also use the function search feature, look up the functions and then fill in the blanks.

Screenshot_114.png

Planning the Sequence

Once you have your course list set up, the next part is easy. Go to your course sequence page and follow the instructions here.

Click on the course code cell that you want to edit. You’ll notice an arrow which indicates a drop down menu.

Screenshot_115.png

Click on the arrow and then menu pops out. Select the course code that you would like to input.

Screenshot_116

Upon selecting the course code, the name of the course should automatically appear beside it.

Screenshot_117

Repeat this process until you have completed your sequence.

You also have a notes section where you can write down additional information that you need to know.

Screenshot_118.png

You are now done!

That is just the basics however. If the default template is insufficient, you are encouraged to customize it however you wish.

I wish you luck on your educational career and hope you find this useful. You can post questions and comments below!

Introducing… The Course Sequence Planner!

The Outline

The planner consists of two parts.

  • The Course Sequence
  • The Course List

The Course Sequence

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The course sequence plans your education for the 4-5 years you attend school. It contains 5 years with each year containing 3 semesters and each semester has room for 5 classes for you to fill in. There is a notes section where you can place additional information regarding the semester.

The Course List

Screenshot_104

This page contains the list of courses you need to take to graduate successfully. This page has the following components:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Electives
  • Totals

I have been working on this little project for a while and after quite some time, I have something that you may find beneficial: The Course Sequence planner!

The Course Sequence Planner is a template that helps you plan your 4-5 in school and helps you ensure that you graduate on time.

You can obtain the template and see an example here.

There are tutorials to help you with using this template if you need it.

This post will also serve as a place for you to ask questions.

Enjoy!

3 Python Projects for Beginners

Python is a popular programming language whose syntax is praised for being easy to read. With its ever growing flexibility and large community, Python is easy to learn and has a lot of potential. That being said, what are some projects you could try? Here are 3 that are good for beginners.

Although I am currently not a Python pro, these projects have helped me get a better grasp of the programming language and its concepts.

  1. Guess the number game

The game works like this: The computer picks a random number from a defined range and you must guess it. With each incorrect guess, the computer will tell you if your guess is too high, too low, or just right. You keep guessing until you correctly guess the number However, you only have a limited number of guesses and if you run out, you lose.

The project relies on the random module, conditionals and loops. The random module is what allows the computer to pick a number, conditionals check and evaluate your guess and loops will keep you guessing until either you get the correct number or you run out of guesses.

With a game with simple rules, programming this is not too complex. Here is an example exercise you can look at along with its solution.

  1. Arithmetic Quiz Generator

Suppose you are designing a software for elementary school children to practice their arithmetic. You might want to avoid printing the assignments as that can be costly and instead want to program it so that it is available to use at any time. This is where you can create your own arithmetic quiz generator.

This project requires the random module, input function, conditionals, loops, and some algorithms. The random module generates the questions, the input function allows the student to select options and input their answers, conditionals will check their answers and loops will allow the program to continuously run and algorithms to generate questions, answers, and calculate the student’s score.

In the end, you might end up with a program that flows like this:

  • A menu
  • The quiz
  • Final results

You can focus on only one operation or offer several others at once. The project will require some details but it is doable for someone who is learning Python overall!

Here is an example of one that I made.

  1. Grade Calculator

You’re further into your semester where you are wondering how you are doing. Your course syllabus presents a grading scheme that involves weighted grades and therefore, your final grade is determined unequally. A grade calculator can help determine what your current grade is given the grades of your assignments and tests that you have done and their weights.

The project simply involves the input function and some algorithms for the most part. It is a very simple project but you can make it as complex as you want.

Here is a simple example of the program where the individual grades are of equal weight and the final grade is the average of the sum of these grade.

Where to Get Help with Choosing Your College Major

Note: The term, “college major” can also be substituted with “university program”. 

Choosing a major is a challenge that almost every student who plans to go college faces. In fact, many students are still contemplating on changing it again, even if they thought they made the right decision. A statistic from the University of La Verne’s website says that 50% to 70% of students change their major at least once. With hundreds of programs to choose from, it’s understandable why students may struggle so much.

How do you choose your major? There are several factors to consider and while you may not be able to decide your major immediately, you can inch closer and closer to your final decision by looking for sources which will help you with that.

Do note that the information that these sources will give you do not have to be strictly relied on; they just give you an idea of what your ideal major could be.

Academic Advisors

Your academic advisors are trained to help you with various problems regarding your academics with choosing your major as one of them. It’s as easy as setting up an appointment with them and discuss your situation. They will help you by providing all the information you need and making sure you have a clear decision of what you want to major in. While academic advisors are a great source of information, there are some problems. First, you need to be a student to be able to contact them and on top of that, there are a limited number of them depending on your university, so it might take a while before it is your turn to see them as there are usually lengthy lineups.

Online Communities

There are communities out there that focus on college. Most of the members have experienced the same problem of struggling to choose a major and can be there to help you and because most of them are still college students or were recent graduates, they understand what it’s like to have this problem, making it easier to help you. Examples of such sites are collegeconfidential.com and Quora. When you post on those sites, make sure you provide as much detail as possible to make getting help easier.

 

There are some websites where you can take a quiz that will recommend majors to you. How it works is that it will ask you a series of questions, assess your answers, and thus, give you majors that would best fit you. The questions asked can include your skills, your interests, and what you would prefer. I personally like the following quizzes:

Goshen College Major Quiz

As you answer the questions, the shape of the compass below will change and your results will be given in the compass. The parts of the shape that point out the most will be your best options.

College Major Quiz by the Saint Louis University

The questions take on a “Would you rather” type of format and given this information, you’ll obtain several results based on your answers.

Mymajors.com College Major Quiz

I like this quiz because it is in-depth and therefore, will give you a more precise answer. The only thing is that you need to make an account to use their assessment but creating one takes minutes.

An example of the results generated by the Goshen College Major Quiz
An example of the results generated by the Goshen College Major Quiz

Videos

Videos can provide a brief but useful overview of college majors. Although informative, it should be noted that many of these videos are usually created by colleges and so it’s obvious that they tend to be biased in favour of the major and the videos are more like an advertisement for the colleges. Nonetheless, if you focus solely on the information that you’re looking for, you will find what you’re looking for.

I would look for videos like the one below as they give an objective review of the major and even then, look for more videos on a particular major to get as many perspectives as possible.

 

Online Course Websites

Trying out courses first-hand is another effective way of deciding your major. I would have suggested that you sign up for a few courses at your school, but considering that you are spending hundreds of dollars on a class with the possibility that you may not even be interested in it, it is really not worth it.

With that in mind, here’s my other suggestion that is cheaper, but will deliver the same results:

There are websites that offer courses for free called massive open online courses (MOOCs). As you are still exploring options, I would prefer taking the free courses just to get your feet wet and experience it first hand. Websites to check out would be Coursera, MIT OpenCourseWare, and edX. All you need to do is register for an account, browse the subjects that you like, and sign up for it. One of the good things is that you do not need to commit to it so if you happen to “fail”, there are no consequences!

A screenshot of the catalog of courses offered by Coursera.
A screenshot of the catalog of courses offered by Coursera.

Conclusion

Choosing a major can be an overwhelming challenge. It is understandable if you struggle with it. While, this article may not be able to choose the right major for you, it can help you narrow down your options and lead you to the right direction.

I wish you good luck and hope you find your major!

If you have any suggestions yourself, I encourage you to share them in the comments below!