Category Archives: Patterns

Reading List

I’ve noticed something about myself that has occurred especially during the past few months. I mean I’ve always enjoyed reading anything that captured my interest, but lately, I have developed a colossal appreciation of reading. This appreciation seems to go leaps and bounds ahead of any time in my life that I can remember. I think this has a lot to do with the amount of time I have spent learning and reading about computer science topics, subjects that I am absolutely fascinated with. I am certain the apprenticeship pattern textbook has only further solidified my interest in reading, software development, and computer science as a whole.

That being said, I have chosen to reflect upon the Reading List pattern this week. The idea concentrates on the importance of keeping and maintaining a “books of interest” record. As someone aspiring to enter the job field of Software Development within a few short months, I feel it is my responsibility to acquire as much knowledge on relative topics that will help further my career. And as much as I like watching informative tutorial videos from time to time, as the context of this pattern implies, sometimes there is no replacing the content of what certain books have to offer. Even many of the people offering such tutorial videos online seem to consistently reference material from one book or another.

I’ve begun personally applying the Reading List pattern after completing the step of signing up for a goodreads account. It’s a powerful, easy to use web app that allows users to keep track of books. Goodreads seems to possess all the capabilities that anyone developing a quality reading list should expect; I think the authors describing this pattern would certainly approve. I was able categorize books I’ve read, books I’m currently reading, and books I’d like to read. After adding a variety of computer science books to my reading list, I noticed the app started to recommend popular books relative to the subject. I will continue applying the Reading List pattern by updating my goodreads book log every time I’ve finished reading a book or started a new book. And from book recommendations from goodreads, mentors, colleagues, and other comparable sources, I will also queue books I would like to read sometime in the future.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Jason Knowles by Jason Knowles and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Concrete Skills

The Concrete Skills apprenticeship pattern seems to give the assertion that entry level software developers should maintain a quality understanding of the “basics.” Employers can and should have the expectation that new hires can contribute in some substantial way, right from the gate. I feel this patterns’ context stresses the importance of understanding the fundamentals of programming, essential algorithms, and computer science in general. One of my main responsibilities as an undergraduate is to learn and maintain such fundamentals that any reputable employer should expect from any entry level software developer.

The authors describing this pattern do a great job of highlighting some pivotal “concrete skills” one should strive for as a newcomer to the field. For instance, it is suggested that gathering a solid understanding of one’s first programming language is a primary skill we should strive for. I realize that my first language (Java) is just the beginning of a myriad of languages I expect to be exposed to in the near future. I ought to practice Java to the point where I can roughly draft code for any rudimentary procedure at any given moment. My potential employers need to know that I grasp the basics of vital data structures and design patterns. I should strive for a solid understanding of these fundamentals to a point where I can just start shelling out code whenever it is asked of me. When I can do this to a point of solid understanding and self-confidence, this will be the day that I can say that I have done so by successfully applying the Concrete Skills pattern.

What I found most interesting about this pattern was the implication of the importance of learning how to play “buzzword bingo” to get your foot in the door as an entry level Software Developer. I must say I found this amusing in the sense that I pictured someone at an interview saying something like “…yeah I’m familiar with APIs, ASP, IDEs, J2EE, NPM, SQL, UML…” and all sorts of other alphabet soup. But at the same time, the term “buzzword bingo” was especially enlightening for me. Any quality resume/CV I’ve ever encountered for inspiration had similar keywords sprinkled throughout them. Thus I have set a personal task for myself to become familiar with such popular buzzwords to a point where I can at least explain them. Proficiency would be great, but I feel I can begin to apply the concrete skills pattern by at least researching more about these recurring buzzword terms. I feel this, along with striving and maintaining a solid understanding of my “first language” Java, are great ways to apply the concrete skills pattern.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Jason Knowles by Jason Knowles and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

The White Belt

I’ve been in the Computer Science (CS) program at WSU for quite some time now. Though I’ve learned a lot in the process, I realize that graduating in May will be just the beginning of my career. I still have a lifetime responsibility of learning ahead of me, and I must find a way to effectively approach this everlasting task.

The textbook references The White Belt as what I feel to be a highly effective pattern to apply when learning new things. The idea is to keep an open mind and bring a proverbial “clean slate” whenever approaching something new. I’m going to use the example of learning new programming languages to further explain this pattern.

We focus a lot on the Java programming language in our school’s CS program. Because of this, I feel I have a proficient understanding of that particular language. We have branched out into other programming languages as well, such as C and TypeScript. But since Java was my first programming language I’ve become proficient in, I always find myself comparing the new languages I learn to Java while I am learning them. The White Belt pattern has changed the way I feel I should be approaching new material. I shouldn’t be making assumptions of new technologies based on my knowledge of other topics, no matter how comparable they may seem. I should be applying The White Belt pattern when approaching new ideas.

For instance, consider a scenario where an algorithm that has been coded in the most effective way known possible for the Java programming language. I should not assume that the code will be just as efficient in a different programming language just because some of the terminology may be similar. I should approach learning a new programming language in the same fashion that I learned Java. A good start would be to consult the community who are well-versed in the skill I am seeking to learn. I ought to start at the very beginning, practicing beginner projects before attempting the more advanced ones. As simple as a “Hello World” exercise may seem based on prior coding experience, The White Belt suggests I should “set this previous knowledge aside.” Based on reading the context of this pattern, I will always try to approach new topics with an open mind and a “clean slate.” This applies not only to the example of learning new programming languages, but also any new situation I may find myself during my professional career.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Jason Knowles by Jason Knowles and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.