That reminds me, must get down there and stock up before my first lecture…
Welcome to Hull for new students. And welcome back to everyone else. Firstly I must apologise for the horrible weather. My fault entirely. I washed both cars yesterday. Fool.
Anyhoo, each year I put up a bunch of tips for new students, so here goes for 2012:
- Make sure that you have all your updates installed on your system. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Windows PC, a Mac or a Linux netbook. Find out how to check for updates and get everything up to date. At some point you will want to connect your machine up to a campus network of some kind, and if you don’t have all the latest security patches you may be vulnerable to infection.
- Do something about viruses. At the very least make sure that your Windows PC has Microsoft Security Essentials installed and running, that the databases are up to date and that you run scans at regular intervals. If you really want to install an anti-virus program don’t feel obliged to spend a lot of money, the AVG free anti-virus program is good and will cost you nothing. Get it from http://free.avg.com/. Please don’t spend huge amounts on some of the more expensive ones. The benefits are dubious and they also have annual renewal charges too.
- Take a backup of your machine and leave it somewhere safe (perhaps even at home). Find out how to use the backup software on your machine and take a copy of everything. Use one of these cheap external hard disks that you can pick up for around 35 pounds or so from places like http://www.ebuyer.com/ or Staples, or even Tesco. That way if it all goes horribly wrong when you get to university you can recover your precious music, videos and other stuff. Once you have the backup habit, take a full one one every month or so.
- Don’t spend huge amounts on software just yet. Most universities (including ours at Hull) have deals that get you some programs that you need cheaply. Take a look at https://www.dreamspark.com/ for free Microsoft stuff and http://students.autodesk.com/ for free Autodesk stuff (great for 3D design).
- The same goes for books. In the computing field they are rather expensive, and you don’t want to pay a lot for a book and then find out that it is only used for a small part of the course. You can check the books out in the library, and you might also find that there is a second hand book sale on your campus where you can pick up the required volumes from other students quite quickly. You might also want to form a little cartel with fellow students to share books between each other and spread the expense (this is also neat because it can also give you a ready made study group). Hull students will get a printed copy of my C# Yellow Book (daffodil edition). Anyone else can get it free from http://www.csharpcourse.com/
- Get a usb memory stick (actually, if you are a Hull Computer Science student we’ll be giving you one of these later this week) . Keep backups of all your work on it. You can also use it to take files into the university to work on. You will get some filespace on the university network, but it will not be an enormous amount, and having your files always with you is useful. Put a file on the drive with your contact details (just your name and phone number) so that if you lose the drive people can find out who to return it to.
- Get some free on line storage. I like Windows Live Skydrive: http://skydrive.live.com/. This gives you 7 GBytes of space which you can access from anywhere on the web via a browser. You’ll need a Windows Live account to use this. Skydrive will also sync files across multiple computers, although I’ve found that that DropBox has better multi-platform support and also keeps track of file generations. Take a look at DropBox at http://www.getdropbox.com/. Unfortunately you only get 2G of Dropbox space for free. You can also use Google Drive: https://drive.google.com
- Make sure you have insurance for all your nice toys. It would be terrible if they got stolen or damaged before they were insured. Take a look at cover from student specialists like Endsleigh: http://www.endsleigh.co.uk/Student/Pages/student-insurance.aspx (if anyone knows any cheaper deals feel free to let me know and I’ll update this post)
- Start blogging. Good writing skillz, like wot I have, are very valuable and make you a much more employable person. Sign up at Hull Computer Science Blogs: http://hullcompsciblogs.com/ and start putting your word out and building your brand.
- Don’t worry. Really. You’ll be fine. And it will stop raining. Probably in April.