Category Archives: Week 1

Apprenticeship Pattern “Your First Language”

This apprenticeship pattern describes how we should approach our first language and how develop our craft in it. The greatest and simplest way for us to master our first language is to tackle real problems to solve. It is beneficial for us to practice problems and code that provide feedback to us with an example being using a print line function to see what we’re getting from specific functions and methods from maybe certain APIs. These test-driven results really teach us to take small steps in developing code and to take a step-by-step approach to testing out assumptions on what we’ve written. We also should always try to learn from more experienced peers. They can help provide insight into some of the nuances in the programming language we are trying to learn.  Also, don’t shy away from focusing on what you’re not good at, try to branch out of what you’re comfortable with and try different types of coding outside of your comfort zone.

What I’ve taken away from this is to try and solve real situational problems to help us learn how to code. A lot of times as students, we tend to just try to get assignments done without truly understanding how certain parts of our code work. We are just learning our first programming languages and are never forced to understand how to use certain things for specific situations. That’s where I believe that using mentors to our advantages work very well. We are able to ask them for help to help us understand the reasoning behind why we use certain things.

This pattern has been insightful into the basics of how to approach my first language. I personally shy away from the things I am weak in and tend to focus more of my time into what I’m good at. As a software engineer, I shouldn’t be scared to tackle problems that I’m not comfortable with but now feel as though I should go back and revisit what I’m not comfortable in. I should be able to use my resources and the people around me to begin to get better at what I’m bad at and to use test driven results to help bridge the gap with what I’m bad at. If I do not understand something, there are always ways to get around and to better myself.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Life as a CS Student by Dylan Nguyen and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

The White Belt

As I started looking into the list of patterns, “The White Belt” hit the nail on my head as the problem illustrated in this pattern looks like what I’m currently facing, or have been facing against for a while I would say. I think the first time I found myself in a “wrong place” with programming was in a Hackathon back in spring 2021.

The situation was my teammates were all having Java background so we decided to create an Android Application using Android Studio so everyone can write code in Java. However, things began to feel strange as we started, Java here is not what we were familiar with actually, the coding concept is different as we have to understand what we need and find out the right documentation according to the problem, something that we were not supposed to do initially, but it’s impossible to change the project now as it might collapse team spirit. Therefore, I had to wear the “black belt” and learned the hard way to figure out how to implement features in a short period of time. The repository that we were working on that time if you want to check: OPCredit

This project damaged my thinking more than it improved my knowledge as I feared that my personal development has stalled because I can’t write Java while Java is my first programming language. According to the solution and action indicated in the book, I ameliorated the situation by learning basic JavaScript, I was impressed by how less complex the code is compared to Java while doing the same thing. Then, as I proceed to learn its frameworks, and from ES5 to ES6, in my view, this is one perfect instance where you shouldn’t suppose to already know what will be implemented, but to be neonate and accept the concept.

By the time this post is online, I was learning CI/CD and Docker, something that is not related to my first language as I will have to understand what is happening in the Command Line Interface to give the container the correct solution. This time, I will wear “The White Belt” even more carefully to not only learn what I have to learn but also to practice how to use this belt for future progression.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Vien's Blog by Vien Hua and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Pattern: Your First Language

For my first blog post on these patterns, I wanted to start with Your First Language. I have only been exposed to a handful of languages since starting my computer science journey. And though I have honed my skills somewhat in those languages, I am by no means a master at them. I can relate to the problem in the pattern, so I was interested in what it had to say. This pattern addresses those who are looking to start learning a programming language or those who feel their skills are not up to par with what a job is looking for. Selecting your first language could influence your future career, so it is important to choose a language wisely. The solution suggests choosing a language based on those around you, for example, an expert in the subject that can mentor you. Becoming proficient in a language involves building up knowledge through reading specifications and solving problems.

One of my main takeaways was to choose a language based on the people you know, specifically an expert. The other takeaway was to look at the community built around a language and see if you want to belong to that community. I found those two points to be the largest deciding factors when it comes to picking up a new language. For me, I would consider my first language to be Java since that was the first language that I learned at school. There were plenty of professors that aided in my learning process and the community surrounding Java is extensive. It would only make sense for me to continue learning about java and solving sample solutions until I consider myself fluent. I think starting a professional career is a bit daunting, but what the pattern explains makes a lot of sense. The only way to become proficient at a language is to do a lot of reading and try out problems myself. A work environment where you can call on a more experienced team member is also beneficial when it comes to learning a language. That being said, I don’t think there is anything I disagree with anything mentioned in the pattern, it more so emphasizes what it means to be a good learner.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Null Pointer by vrotimmy and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Pattern: Concrete Skills

The pattern I decided to read is titled “Concrete Skills” from chapter 2 of Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye. This pattern starts off by discussing how hiring managers have no incentive to hire someone who can not directly contribute to a team’s workload. Hoover and Oshineye ask the following rhetorical question from a recruiters point of view: “If we hire you today, what can you do on Monday morning that will benefit us?”. In short, the solution to this problem is to develop and maintain some concrete skills. We learn that with time we will become less dependent on our concrete skills and get hired through the reputation we have garnered from notable projects. This pattern ends by giving the reader a recommendation on how they can begin developing some concrete skills.

The thing I found most interesting from the reading is that at some point in my journey I will become less dependent on my concrete skills. My portfolio and “deeper qualities” will be what matter more. This was interesting to me because in a section that stresses the importance of learning concrete skills in the beginning of my professional journey, I am still getting a message that soft skills are important. This shows me how there is an important balance of maintaining the hard skills I’ve learned in addition to being a team player, having good communication, being empathetic and having many other traits that fall under the soft skills category.

Overall, there isn’t anything that stands out that I strongly disagree with in the reading. As far as how this pattern has caused me to change the way I think, I would say that it has emphasized the importance of regularly updating my resume with technical skills since this is something many hiring managers focus on. Since there are plenty of skills I’ve been developing in school this past year, I took the advice from this pattern to heart and almost immediately started jotting down the skills I have started developing. I also started looking into CVs online for inspiration of concrete skills I want to develop and to add to my own resume.

From the blog Sensinci's Blog by Sensinci's Blog and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Exposing Your Ignorance

When previously looking at ‘Apprenticeship Patterns’ we discussed the importance of the pattern ‘The White belt'(You can read more about that here: https://georgechyoghlycs343.wordpress.com/2022/01/26/apprenticeship-patterns-wearing-your-white-belt/). That pattern focused on the importance of being able to set aside past experiences to learn something new. To build upon this we will be looking at the pattern titled ‘Exposing Your Ignorance’.

As we previously saw, it is important to always be learning, especially for software craftsmen who must always be prepared to learn a new language or technology stack for their current job. However, this ever-evolving profession presents a common risk that many fall victim to. It is far too often that we feel pressure to appear competent in front of our peers and our managers. People depend on us to be confident and deliver on whatever job is put in front of us.

You may feel pressured to give your manager reassurance that you know what they want, how to give it to them and when it will be done. But to do so will only be detrimental to your reputation in the long run if you cannot deliver. Instead, it is important to set aside your pride and be truthful with both yourself and your peers regarding your capabilities. If you want to reassure anyone on anything, do so on your ability to learn.

Dave Hoover, an author of this book worked as a family therapist previously and often took the “not knowing” stance when dealing with every new family. This feeling of not knowing would eventually become something that he grew attached to, as a reminder that he was in the right place, that he was learning something new and growing as a person.

To “Expose your Ignorance” you must embrace the learning process, you must have the courage to “Wear your White Belt” and commit to the learning process. Some don’t and fall back on what they are already familiar with. Those people generally become experts but this is not the goal of an apprentice. An apprentice will, by the end of their apprenticeship, have a solid grasp on a few different technologies they can use to create robust software applications. A master craftsman will have a handle on a myriad of different technologies and be able to create large, complex software.

One thing that is discussed in the book you can do now is take a sheet of paper, write down a list of 5 different software tools you do not understand. Post this paper in an area that you and anyone else can see it and update it as you learn more and your work changes. Setting aside your pride to do this can help prevent future pressure from causing you to act in ways that may be detrimental to you in the future.

Bibliography:

Hoover, Dave H., and Adewale Oshineye. Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman. O’Reilly, 2010.

From the blog CS@Worcester – George Chyoghly CS-343 by gchyoghly and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Concrete Skills

This week I am writing about concrete skills. The apprentice pattern here is somewhat self explanatory. Concrete skills are what an apprentice can do for a company day one on the job. Some examples of conrete skills are basic web development, popular frameworks, and the standard library of the programmer’s language of choice. The problem is that an apprentice that has not proven himself may not be able to find a job. The hiring manager needs a reason to take a risk on this prospective employee. The solution is aquiring concrete skills. The author recommends that apprentices seek out guidance from developers they admire. And pursue 5 concrete skills on that developer’s resume. And build a toy project that demonstrates these concrete skills. I really like this idea. The author also mentions that a recruiter is more focused on the skills at this point in the journey, than the experience. Because the work experience is not software related.

I think that his is a very useful apprentice pattern. And I like that it starts before an apprentice starts getting paid to code. One thing I think could be improved is finding the important concrete skills from another developers resume. I think the more practical approach is to look at job postings to find what concrete skills are in demand right now. It is possible that a developer I admire has skills on their resume that are no longer in demand. One way that employers quantify an apprentice’s concrete skills is through a technical interview. This interview would involve basic data structures and algorithms. As well as the standard library of whichever language the candidate is interviewing with.

I have done a version of this apprentice pattern already. I have noticed that many companies hiring Full Stack Engineers are using React.js, so I decided to complete a React tutorial and a simple project over the Christmas break. I was able to but something new on my GitHub, and my resume. This process is a win-win because I am learning a concrete skill, and improving my public GitHub profile at the same time.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Jim Spisto by jspisto and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

A Constant State of “Update”(ing): Using Apprenticeship Patterns to Become a Master Programmer

“Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman” has been considered to be an acclaimed read by many of my fellow students. After giving the book a try, I can also see why it is such a big hit. In essence, this book speaks to programmers on a “relatable, spiritual” level on how to turn their passion for software development into a lifelong process of constant improvement.

To be honest, the most interesting part of the reading for me was found in Chapter 4: Accurate Self-Assessment. This is because it is instrumental to my learning style that I am “the worst of a group”, or that I am always in a zone that I need to focus on improvement. Throughout my college career, I have been the type of person to rant and rave about how “I’d rather get a ‘C’ and master two programming languages, than receive an ‘A’ and still show evidence of struggling with one.”

Considering my own views on how I work with software, I feel as though this book has been mainly a “rehash”, or a reinforcement of my beliefs. This is due to several factors, including the “Be the Worst” philosophy as mentioned in “Accurate Self-Assessment”; this can also be seen in “Chapter Two: Emptying the Cup”, where they state the importance of becoming extremely proficient with your first programming language.

Unfortunately, as amazing as this book is, I cannot say that I agree with every last line of its code. One spot where a “warning of disagreement” occurs is when “Chapter 6: Construct Your Curriculum” does just that – it tells me how to create my own study plan (outside of college classrooms and office hours). Perhaps this makes me contradict myself with my own “unorthodox schedule”, but I learn best when I don’t feel like it’s forced. Instead, my most efficient learning is recreational; it seems as though material sticks with me the best when I ingest it in the same way that one would ingest a juicy diary or a football roster.

For me, I found the chapter “Walking the Long Road” to be the most useful for continuing my career as a software engineer. This is due to the fact that it acts as a reason for using the philosophies found in “Accurate Self-Assessment”. By this, I mean that people (including myself) need to understand that becoming a master craftsman, and especially a master programmer, does not “just happen” overnight. it takes years upon years of grinding, of constantly “being wrong” and being challenged to find alternative solutions to problems.

Overall, “Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman” has been a fun, yet informative read. As mentioned before, I agree with most of the book; even in times of disagreement, I can see where the authors are coming from. I am looking forward to the applications of this book in my career as an aspiring software developer.

From the blog CS@Worcester – mpekim.code by Mike Morley (mpekim) and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Started From the Bottom, and It Only Goes Uphill From Here: How “Being the Worst” Is the Best Place to Be

It seems as though across several different environments, people have come to an agreement that “being at the bottom” actually isn’t as bad as one may make it seem. Rap music often makes references to “starting at the bottom” and “creating a grind for the paper”; Harvard University, despite its reputation for requiring high GPA scores, has an urban legend of “failing new students on their first semester”. Whether or not these previous statements are framed in facts or anecdotal assumptions, the idea remains that we as a society understand that “there is always room for improvement” – every day that you don’t make yourself stronger, you make yourself weaker.

This brings me to my first pattern of self-assessment from the Apprenticeship Patterns book: “Be the Worst”. In a sentence, the pattern explains that if we have nothing/no one to challenge us, then our knowledge level plateaus or even weakens; it is always a good idea to surround yourself with people that are better than you. This gives you the ability to learn from them and become an even greater programmer.

To be honest, I am glad that I started with this pattern. While I cannot say that it’s interesting per se (since I have always had this philosophy in mind), I can say that it is useful. I get where the book is coming from, and I would like to always be the “weakest link” as it ensures that I am in good, professional company.

As I stated before, the pattern has not really changed my way of thinking, since I have already held this idea of “being the worst” near and dear to me. However, I must say that it is nice to see a professional textbook reinforcing my beliefs – while it goes against the philosophy, being correct before a confirmation is a good dopamine rush. I also cannot say that there is much to disagree with, since the pattern hits every nail on the head:

  • Join a team in which “you are the worst”.
  • Work harder than the rest of the team; don’t “be a passenger” or have people carry you.
  • Provide as much help as possible, even if these tasks seem “menial”.

Could this pattern be an excuse for my procrastination at the start of this semester? Maybe – I think the “early start” didn’t help either (and some burnout from constantly taking classes to boot). However, in the end, I am glad that I have a great team to work with, and a bit of “set back” in order to keep myself on my toes for these upcoming classes. If this setback is my “rock bottom”, then I can only imagine how great it will be at the summit.

From the blog CS@Worcester – mpekim.code by Mike Morley (mpekim) and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

From Warcraft III to My PC: My Inevitable Pairing with Polymorphism

The year was 2005. I was a young child in elementary school, and eventually I was exposed to a little-known strategy game known as Warcraft III. As I championed the human race in my epic quest against the Undead Scourge of Lordaeron, I came across a sorceress ability known as “Polymorphism”. This powerful spell allowed its caster to turn an individual target into a harmless sheep. While entertaining and useful to say the least, little did I know that Polymorphism itself would take on a new form in the years to come…

Fast forward to 2021. I am being exposed once again to Polymorphism, this time as an essential feature of Object-Oriented programming. This would mark the third time that I am working with this concept (the other times being 2016-2017, and 2019 respectively). Polymorphism, in theory, isn’t very difficult: we take one idea (such as a function/method), and give it “many forms” (hence the name) among its various classes that use the function/method.

Listed below is an article about polymorphism from GeeksForGeeks, one of my “personal go-tos” when it comes to learning about programming practices. Specifically, “runtime polymorphism” will be more applicable in my software design class, due to its usage of method overriding. When using the “Strategy Design” of refactoring, we will create various interfaces and have them implemented using respective classes; these classes will then create their own version of the method.

Strategy design refactoring seems to provide an edge over “simple inheritance”, which would involve having a single base class (that all subclasses inherit off of). This “edge” is the removal of inherited methods that serve no purpose in certain subclasses; when the interface is implemented by the class, we can choose exactly what we want and don’t want from polymorphism.

However, having too many interfaces, or not enough data within the interface can cause its own problems. In addition, an interface is just that: a “top-down” view, with nothing beneath it; the methods need to be designed by the class using it. Meanwhile, inheritance may have redundant data, but at least you get all that and a bag of chips. In other words, inheritance provides one portion of functioning methods, plus whatever else is added on in the subclass.

I hope that I can use the idea of polymorphism, alongside interfaces, to reduce the amount of redundancy and complexity in my programs. There is no need to turn a program into a headache with unnecessary amounts of inheritance. In addition, part of this unnecessary material could be redundant – brought along for the ride, but not used during run-time.

Link: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/polymorphism-in-java/

From the blog CS@Worcester – mpekim.code by Mike Morley (mpekim) and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

cs@worcester – Dream to Reality 2021-09-26 23:53:59

What are UML Class Diagrams

Foremost, UML diagrams

UML stands for Unified Modeling Language and was invented by Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobson, and James Rumbaugh in 1995 while working at Rational Software. We create UML diagrams to help us comprehend the system more clearly and simply. A single diagram does not represent all aspects of the system. UML defines various kinds of diagrams to cover most of the aspects of a system. UML diagram has two categories of diagrams, Structural Diagrams and Behavioral Diagram. Inside Structural Diagrams, there is Class diagram, Object diagram, Component diagram, and Deployment diagram.

UML class diagrams

Class diagrams are the most common diagrams used in UML. Classes, interfaces, relationships, and collaboration are all represented in class diagrams. The features and activities of a class, as well as the system’s restrictions, are depicted in a class diagram. Class diagrams are often used in the design of object-oriented systems since they are the only UML diagrams that can be directly mapped with object-oriented languages.

What is Class?

A Class is an object’s blueprint. Objects and classes are inextricably linked. We can’t discuss one without discussing the other. And, because we utilize classes to generate objects, the entire objective of Object-Oriented Design is not about objects, but about classes. As a result, while a class describes what an object will be, it is not the object itself. Classes, on the other hand, specify the types of things, whereas objects are useable instances of classes. Each Object was constructed using the same blueprints and so has the same components (properties and methods). An object is a member of a class and has states and behaviors, according to the standard definition.

Examples

An example can be such as there is a base class as an animal dog and we create an instance like Bobby, which is a dog. A dog has properties such as color, eye color, height, weight. And the method example for a dog can be such as a dog can jump, can sit, can eat. And for the object which is Bobby, Bobby has property value. Bobby is a yellow color, he has brown color eye; he is 17 inches tall, and he weights 24 pounds. For the methods Bobby can jump, he can sit, can eat as well.

Why UML class diagrams?

I chose this topic because UML diagrams have always made it easier for me to understand the topic/code. It helps me figure out which classes are inherited from which, which classes are abstract, and so on. For example, a class may override a method, but with the UML diagram/markdown preview, I can easily tell where the original method was created and why I have override that method. Also, since our 1st assignment is about markdown preview and UML diagrams, why not. So far, these two websites have helped me gain a better understanding of UML diagrams. https://www.tutorialspoint.com/uml/uml_standard_diagrams.htm https://www.visual-paradigm.com/guide/uml-unified-modeling-language/uml-class-diagram-tutorial/

From the blog cs@worcester – Dream to Reality by tamusandesh99 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.