Category Archives: Week 12

Breakable Toys

This week’s Craftsmanship Pattern is another important one, breakable toys. This stands for the idea that experience is built upon failure just as much, if not more, than success. This idea is very good, as no one wants to fail, but failing is one of the best ways to learn, as if you are always successful, it is much more difficult to learn what does not work and what to avoid. The idea of never failing means you will never take any risks. To quote one of my favorite memes, “You didn’t grow. You didn’t improve. You took a shortcut and gained nothing. You experienced a hollow victory. Nothing was risked and nothing was gained.” While the above is pointed at cheating in a very difficult video game instead of “Gitting Gud” (intentional spelling) to pass a difficult task, I feel like the same idea applies here as well. It is important to learn what to do to succeed from what does not work, and what does work to continue using it.

To help with this growing, and similar to last weeks, it can be good to set up a private space where you can seek out this failure to learn from the experiences. For projects that you can fail on, try to build you own minor application, maybe a calendar or address book, for example. Things that are not too big, but still good enough to allow for failure without negatively impacting you. One highly recommended thing to do in the book is to create your own personal wiki, as you can use it to record what you learn. They are also nice since they can be simple, but still allows you to learn about things like HTTPS, REST, parsing, web design, etc. Sticking with this long enough will teach you about many things you many not have been exposed to otherwise, again creating an overall positive experience, because you will have some failure along the way, but how you overcame the failure is important. The book shows an email that Linus Torvalds saying that he is making a free OS based loosely off of minix, and those who know know where he went with this, and that is where we got Linux.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Erockwood Blog by erockwood and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship pattern: Be The Worst

I was reading the pattern Be The Worst which actually explains how it is important to take a step back and improve our skills as Software developers. Sometimes we hate being surrounded by people who are smarter, fast learners than us because we feel a sort of complex of inferiority to think that we’re not better than them and can or will never be. That is one thing that I struggled with personally because instead of wanting to be with people who had more experience, and skills than me, I would rather be with those who are not stronger than me to feel more skilled than them.

Reading this pattern made me understand that sometimes, being the worst in a team (meaning that you do have skills and knowledge but they know more than us) helps us grow a lot and improve even more than what we already have.

One thing that I think all the Software Developers have is that they all have a competitive spirit, which is not bad at all but it just pushes them all to want to be all equal and want to feel stronger, smarter than others. We all want to be good and the best at Software Development, but we need to understand that to be good, we need to surround ourselves with the good ones and learn from them, their experiences, skills, and knowledge.

One thing that we need to keep in mind is that those people who became stronger, smarter, and best at their work (Software Developers) were like us too and surrounded themselves with the best and had to feel/be the worst at some point of their life. We don’t become good at something without sacrifices, determination, and dedication.

One part of this pattern that I loved was mentioned in this pattern is that making mistakes is not a problem, but also that there are fewer chances of making mistakes because other members of that team will help prevent that to happen. It’s only when you work on your own that you will see how much your team increases your productivity and realize how much you have learned.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Gracia's Blog (Computer Science Major) by gkitenge and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Blog 3: Find Mentors

This pattern is as clear as its tittle. Here’s the context given: you have realized that you’re not the first person to walk the path and that you are spending a lot of time exploring blind alleys. The problem is that you’re walking along a path with no idea of what’s around the next corner or how to prepare for it. You need help and guidance. The pattern doesn’t fail to recognize that our field is very young and therefore has few recognized masters. The solution is then to seek out those who have gone ahead of you and strive to learn from them.

I agree with the pattern because finding a mentor or someone that can supervise the work of an apprentice saves so much time and helps with building confidence. The pattern mentions how hard it is to find mentors sometimes and I can relate to that as I have found myself trying to find a mentor but it has always been hard. That being said, joining online forums, discord servers and being on “Tech” twitter has helped me make meaningful connections. I have come to understand that it is extremely important to find a community and put myself out there.

Another interesting fact they mentioned is that when trying to find mentors, an apprentice must remember that we’re all walking The Long Road and no one knows everything. It can be tempting to feel that your mentor must be a master because they know so much more than you do. That temptation must be resisted, because you do not want to become so disillusioned with your mentor’s inevitable weaknesses or blind spots that you feel you can no longer learn from someone who still has much to offer.

Something to remember is that your apprenticeship is unlikely to happen in isolation, and just as there will be people ahead of you, there will also be apprentices who have not yet reached your skill level. The other side of your search for mentors is that you must be willing to provide mentoring to those who seek it from you. Passing along what you have learned from your mentors is one of the ways in which you can begin the transition to journeyman status.

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

“A Different Road”

From the blog cs@worcester – Dahwal Dev by Dahwal Charles and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Dig Deeper

The ‘dig deeper’ apprenticeship pattern imagines a scenario where you have familiarized yourself with a number of tools but only enough to be able to implement them into your own system. You do not take the time to properly engage with these tools, and you only ever learn enough about a tool to get through your own individual work. This superficial understanding of your tools can lead to issues, and you may have trouble recognizing and solving bugs that arises because of a given tool. The solution is to take the time to acquire a more in-depth understanding of these tools and technologies. This will give you a good foundation to build off as you learn other tools and will give you a more holistic understanding of the systems you work on. You should learn enough about the tools you used to be able to solve any issues, but you should not completely devote yourself to becoming a specialist in those tools.

I think this apprenticeship pattern is interesting. I am interested specifically in the Hoover and Oshineye recommendation to become familiar with debuggers that show you your running program, become familiar with wire-level debuggers, and be willing to read specifications. I knew that different types of debuggers exist, but I was never sure in what situations you would use them. I should follow this advice and do some in-depth research on at least the debuggers they mention. I also thought it was interesting that they recommend reading through specifications for tools; I do try to do this whenever I am introduced to a new tool.

I am definitely guilty of only learning a tool enough to use it in my own project, but I want to get better about understanding the tools I use. I think the advice in this apprenticeship pattern is very useful in this way, particularly the advice to obtain information about your tools from primary sources. I think being able to read through, parse, and fully understand specifications and defining theses would be beneficial to my career. I would feel a lot more confident working on a system with tools that I can comprehend the workings of. I think this is a good way to develop my skills and prepare for my future career.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Ciampa's Computer Science Blog by robiciampa and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship patterns – Dig Deeper

This apprenticeship pattern is all about expanding your knowledge about the tools you use and that if you find yourself in a situation where you are facing problems on the applications and different utilities that you have picked up over time has started to become a burden. This can be due to you using an unreliable source when learning about this product or just not going deep enough into the tool and only using what you needed at the time. This then can lead to troubles when you are put to the test or see a problem you have never faced before. The solution to this problem requires you to go beyond and start looking at the different nuances and inner workings of the programs you are working with.

Here this problem can be seen when you are perhaps interviewed and they ask you about projects that you have worked on. They then ask you about what you did and you can say that, but you don’t know exactly how it works all together, you coded some part of the backend but can’t exactly explain how that section functions. The background knowledge of the project is lacking in areas that could be problematic when you need to work in relation to that knowledge This is a problem and that you should instead take the initiative in understanding more about what you are working with to boost yourself and be prepared for a situation when this knowledge is required.

I myself could devote much more time into learning more about the tools I use and more about the projects I am working on. I could perhaps put some time into learning more on what is going on with the LibreFoodPantry and how the other groups are working to get a better idea of the situation. The job listings and internships out there are expecting more than just basic knowledge of the tools they list and use. There is much more with docker that I could be doing and figuring out issues that pop up from time to time if they are even fixable or not.

From the blog CS@Worcester – kbcoding by kennybui986 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sweep The Floor

The sweeping the floor pattern is all about earning your dues. It’s a rite of passage for any apprentice to earn their place in their respective workshops. Over the years I’ve gotten my haircut countless times. In a barbershop, you’ll likely come across a younger individual who all the barbers are always cracking jokes on. This individual also has a very important role to play within the shop. Although the shop’s main attraction is the barbers, the individual or individuals who sweep the floor are the unsung heroes. They allow the barbers to continue doing their work without having to spend the necessary time to clean up after themselves. The work the sweepers do come with a couple of benefits. Allowing them to earn some cash, as well as giving them an opportunity for them to learn how to become a barber. With all the time they spend in the shop, they get to watch closely from the sidelines as the barbers portray their skills. This relationship can also be seen in apprentices who wish to become software developers.

The authors make mention of things you can do in terms of earning your keep at your internship. Picking up the grueling time-consuming tasks that seasoned members of your team don’t like to do or don’t have the time to do is not only a great way to learn something new, but it also helps your team out. Although your contributions may take significantly less skill, your contribution is still valuable. The message here is to make the most out of each opportunity that you’re given.

While I agree that these sorts of things should be taken up during an internship or apprenticeship, I do not believe that taking up these sorts of tasks as an employee is a suitable thing to do. There may be times where picking up less technical work may be necessary, but always taking up these types of tasks on your team could allow your teammates to feel comfortable with giving you bottom of the barrel work regularly, which could speak for how competent your teammates think you really are.

From the blog CS@Worcester – You have reached the upper bound by cloudtech360 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Use the Source

Christian Shadis

In the apprenticeship pattern Use the Source, Hoover and Oshineye explore the importance of learning from reading code from open-source projects. They start by explaining how young programmers often struggle to self-assess their code, since many have not seen enough professional-grade code to understand how theirs stacks up. Luckily, all the open-source code you could ever want is freely available to any developer. Hoover and Oshineye encourage the reader to use these resources as much as possible to gain a better understanding of code inside its context in a working software system.

This pattern closely resembles the advice I recently received from a software engineer family friend. She was transitioning from test automation to full-stack Python development and offered some insight into her job search process and some strategies to use for myself. Her main piece of advice was to browse GitHub for code written by other engineers – open-source projects, employees from the company at which you are applying, or anything else which could prove useful.

I started my Computer Science journey later in my academic career than I would have liked to, having switched into my school’s CS program toward the end of my freshman year in college not knowing anything about the discipline. I am still learning what good and bad code looks like, and how to take the concepts from classes and implement them to scale in deployed software systems. My time in a traditional classroom setting is quickly coming to an end, and I must transition my focus to self-education

I hope to use this pattern throughout my career, but especially so in the first few years. Since I started my CS journey, Git has been a good friend of mine, and I have always been interested in getting to know how it works so well. As such, it would be fitting to start by looking at the code for Git, focusing on the use of data structures. I still feel as though my biggest weakness as a developer is understanding how small microservices and programs interact in a much larger environment. Looking at the source code for distributed systems will give me valuable insight into how the puzzle pieces fit together.

Reference:

Hoover, D. H., & Oshineye, A. (2010). Perpetual Learning. In Apprenticeship patterns: Guidance for the aspiring software craftsman. O’Reilly.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Christian Shadis' Blog by ctshadis and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

The Deep End

This apprenticeship pattern talks about how software developers should jump into the deep end. Many developers take small, safe steps in their career, and this sometimes leaves them unsatisfied. This dissatisfaction could leave developers feeling like they are in a rut, and not just a plateau. When someone is on a plateau, they are consolidating their skills through hard practice in order to reach the next level. However, when a software developer is in a rut, their bland competence eventually decays into mediocrity. To avoid being in a rut or staying in one, a software developer needs to grow their skills, confidence, and portfolio. They need to take on more responsibility, do bigger projects, tackle more challenging tasks, work in larger teams, or try new places.

This apprenticeship pattern discusses how developers should do just that, they should jump right into the deep end. What software developers should not do is sit around and wait until they are ready, that’s a recipe for not doing anything. Instead, when software developers are faced with a challenging role or position, they should grasp it with both hands. This is because growth only happens by doing things that push you out of your comfort zone. If you only do what you are comfortable with, then you are not pushing yourself hard enough.

Of course, doing something like this comes with great risk. If bite off more than you could chew, then things could backfire. This apprenticeship pattern specifically mentions that jumping into the deep end does not mean lying about your qualifications to take a job that you can’t do or doing tasks without adequate preparation. Instead, it means taking on the promotions or the foreign assignments that you were offered. The key is that when taking on a new opportunity, you should assess the risk and difficulty to make sure that your head is above water.

Personally, I think this pattern is something that all apprentices are going to need. Everybody in our craft needs growth to stay on top, and growth doesn’t come without trying new and challenging things. It’s important to take that leap forward if you feel like you’re in a rut. However, when considering new opportunities, it is vital to evaluate the risk. If you find yourself with your head underwater then that means you took on too much risk and you’re drowning. To offset some of the risks, it would be wise to find mentors and kindred spirits who would give you advice and help when needed. It would also be wise to create feedback loops.

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

Apprenticeship Pattern: Craft Over Art

For this week’s blog post, I took a look at the ‘Craft Over Art’ pattern. Now shifting from how to improve your skills as a developer, this pattern describes using your skills to make something that is useful for a customer. The pattern encourages us as craftsmen to mainly prioritize function over form. As stated in the pattern, “The things we build for customers can be beautiful but must be useful,” meaning one should try to maintain a balance between the two. Customers will usually value a quality working product over something impressive but unusable, so it is important to not put personal interests before a customer’s request. A good mindset to have is to be able to sacrifice beauty in favor of utility.

For the most part, I think that this pattern makes sense. Reflecting on myself, I am usually the type to write code to meet specifications as opposed to writing extraneous code that only does the same thing. The pattern mentions the tradeoff between beauty and utility. There will be times when you make the wrong decision and will need to go back and fix the mistake. As mentioned in the pattern, “fixing that mistake by rewriting the system from scratch may not be in the customer’s best interest. In those situations you will need to develop the ability to refactor and repair.” On the other hand, if you cut corners, you will end up with a subpar product by trying to dish out a program in as little time as possible. With the little experience I have in this profession, I can say that customers expect high-quality code and a fast turnaround time. Making such mistakes can be stressful especially when deadlines are involved.

When writing a piece of software that is useful, it is important to maintain the level of quality it should have. One of the ways I can think of that makes code higher quality is to utilize the principles of clean code. In doing so, I end up writing higher quality code that is arguably better to have than having something beautiful. Having clean code will be beneficial in the long run when I will eventually have to refactor my code. As I continue down this path to become a software craftsman, I want to culminate the skills that it takes to consistently produce high-quality code for customers.

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