Category Archives: Week 13

You Must Learn To Unlearn

Hello, again my fellow readers!

Last week we took a look at the beginner pattern, Your First Language. This week we will continue along the path to the next pattern, The White Belt.

As I have said, The White Belt is the next apprentice pattern after, Your First Language. This pattern is all about what to do after you have learned your first language and can strut your stuff with it. The problem The White Belt pattern is here to solve is when learning a second language becomes tiresome and tedious. Learning one language is great but, expanding your library is a must to become a software craftsman. What can happen, however, is slowdowns and stalling in learning. The solution to this is to adopt the mindset of a white belt. To quote the book, “Wearing the white belt is based on the realization that while the black belt knows the way, the white belt has no choice but to learn the way.” In other words, while you go about learning a new language, treat it as if it was brand new to you, even if you are learning something with familiar attributes. An excellent example is you have learned Java and now you are learning JavaScript. Both are fairly similar to each other and have overlapping ideas and methodology. Using the white belt philosophy, treat learning JavaScript as if it had no relation to Java. While this may seem counterintuitive (it still does to me),  the pattern claims that it will accelerate your learning. It will also allow you to discover new possibilities, as well as your mind, is open and without preconceived notions.

I understand where this pattern is coming from. I do get that an open mind can, and most likely will, lead to new possibilities. I agree with that. I suppose that my issue is that forgetting to accelerate learning is still something I find a bit backward. Looking at it, I must admit that I have not tried this method. Typically I find that making associations to things you do know is a good memory tactic and can speed up learning. It is entirely possible that the White Belt pattern will work for me. The only thing for it is to try it. I can legitimately say it doesn’t work without trying it for myself now can I?

Looks like I have some unlearning to do in my future.

Until next time readers!

From the blog CS@Worcester – Computer Science Discovery at WSU by mesitecsblog and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Find Mentors

Hi dear readers. Welcome to my next blog post. In this blog post I am going to talk about the next pattern called “Find Mentors”. I strongly believe this is a very important pattern and I will explain why below.

In the path of your career, you will always find yourself struggling learning about new stuff or not knowing what to learn . Don’t freak out though, this is normal. I know it sounds weird, but this is just the start of your journey and you are expected to not know everything. However, sometimes is very hard on to determine what to learn next or what is your next step in your career. So as the book suggests, a mentor is always a good help to have.

Finding the perfect mentor for you is not easy and you probably will never find him/her. It is true that there are a lot of people out there who  are professionals in what they do, but that doesn’t mean they are meant to be mentors. However, do not get discouraged because there are plenty of people who like to be mentors, you just got to be patient until you find him/her.

Another good point that the authors make in the book is that you might change mentors often or have multiple mentors as different people are specialized in different areas and have different knowledge. The hard part in all this process is finding and convincing this person to be your mentor. It might be awkward for you to ask and also weird for them. Unfortunately there might also be cases when they will refuse, but do not get discouraged. You will find other mentors. If you really really like a specific person to be your mentor, you got to win his/her ‘heart’.

While you grow you will be able to understand if you are in need of changing mentors and there is nothing wrong with that. Also as they teach you, you will understand what you really like and what you want your focus to be in. So start being part of communities and look for your mentors based on what you’re interested.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Danja's Blog by danja9 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Pattern – Find Mentors

The apprenticeship pattern Find Mentors refers to the problem in which you feel like you require help and guidance because you’re not sure where the path is taking you and you feel unprepared for what’s to come. The solution to this is to reach out to other craftsmen who are ahead of you and to try your best to learn from them.

This pattern in particular was interesting to me because I feel as though I’m at or nearing a point in which I would benefit greatly from mentorship. Of course, no matter how far along the path you are, there’s always something to gain from mentorship. People who just graduated or recently graduated, I feel, are more likely to have that feeling of being unsure of what they should be doing. These are the people who need help and guidance the most in order to push them along the path. Even though it would be ideal for apprentices to find mentors, it’s definitely not as simple as it sounds. I’m certain that some people who are in need of mentorship don’t feel as though they know anyone who they feel comfortable asking to be a mentor to them. One of the most interesting parts of the section is that, even if you feel intimidated about reaching out to someone to ask for an apprenticeship, the risk of being rejected or considered strange by a potential mentor is relatively low, while the potential payoff is huge. So, if you find someone that you’re really interested in learning from, you should definitely reach out to them as there’s so much to gain.

I don’t feel like the pattern really changed the way that I think about Software Engineering, but I think my biggest takeaway from this is the make sure to not be too intimidated to reach out for mentorship. Had I not read this pattern I’m certain that I would have felt that way for a long time, so hopefully in the future I power through. I think it would be a good idea to seek out opportunities to find potential mentors in the future.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Andy Pham by apham1 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sprint 5 Retrospective

This past sprint was not quite as productive as we would have liked, although we did manage to start making great progress towards the end. In the beginning we ran into a tremendous amount of roadblocks. Between angular versioning, formatting errors, and more, we were really struggling to get off the ground in terms of productivity. It seemed as though, once one person had the local environment running on their machine, it broke for someone else. It wasn’t just a couple of us having issues, either. Each person in the group seemed to encounter some error at some point in time.

First, one of our members was struggling to build the angular environment at all. A fresh install of angular was required, which seemed to have fixed the issue. After that, I was facing some issues with something called polyfill.js, which was interfering with my ability to get my angular server running at all. Stack overflow wasn’t of much help because most of the issues I found posted were suggesting that I alter package-lock.json files, etc. These were all things that my teammates didn’t have to do in order to get the server running, so I figured that the solution was simpler than that. I was correct in my assumption once I remembered that AMPATH recommends that we run ng serve with the –prod tag as well. Upon doing this, the issue with pollyfill.js resolved and I could run the server perfectly fine.

Not only this, but we seemed to have many issues with git branching for whatever reason. We had previously played around with another group’s branch in order to confirm that we could get styling running at all on our local machines (which is how we realized we needed to ng serve in order to see styling). This ended up being a bit of an issue for a few of our team members, because they were seemingly unable to git checkout back into our branch — git was declaring that they didn’t have permission to join the branch again. In order to fix this, those members decided it was easiest if they just deleted the repository locally and recloned the project. Upon all of these changes, we were finally all caught up and able to ng serve nice and cleanly, without any big red errors.

Once we had fixed angular environment issues, we moved on to development and actually got some design happening. A big issue we were trying to conquer was that our angular form component using the material design “mat-form-field” module wasn’t displaying correctly. It was a standard HTML text field as opposed to the correct Angular Material styled one. Last sprint we discovered that we were being a bit silly with this and that we needed the angular server running for the text boxes to display correctly, but even still, our field component wasn’t functioning how we had anticipated. After playing with some other components (material design checkboxes, etc.) I realized that we foolishly hadn’t important the library for the material input field, which was nested within the form field. Due to this, it was completely un-styling our entire form field. After importing this correctly, it was (and has been) development game time.

From the blog CS@Worcester – James Blash by jwblash and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Pattern “Practice, Practice, Practice”

The apprenticeship pattern framed the problem is that if you do not have room to make mistakes in your day to day programming, you will not have room to grow. The next line hit close to home, “It’s as if you’re always on stage.”

I learn quite a bit from my school assignments, but I don’t always think I have mastered each area before moving on to the next topic. The problem arises when I know my code could be improved upon, but it’s currently working. I don’t want to restructure my code too much, because I’m afraid of making it worse.

The term comes to mind, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” I have problems with this way of thinking, but when you’re pressed to make something work before the impending deadline, “good enough” is sometimes feels like the only option I have left.

This pattern champions a different approach to this kind of mentality. I like the idealized version that they have laid out based on the research of K. Anders Ericsson. This describes where a mentor would assign you a task based on your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have finished your mentor will review it and point out areas for potential growth the next time.

A important distinction the pattern makes is that we cannot use our profession to practice because when you practice, you make mistakes. You need to find time outside of your work session and make those mistakes when you practice.

I realize having a mentor may not always be realistic for everyone. However, I think I have a way to practice this over the summer. I have been talking to one of my classmates who has started a small consulting company. He offered me a position if I was interested, which I am.

They are currently is contracted by my alma mater, Quinsigamond Community College, to keep track of the information that is collected by their greenhouses. He has hinted that he might look to expand it if he is successful.

I feel this closely fits to what the pattern suggests. I will have a mentor. I will be practicing my skills and having close feedback. I will have room to make mistakes as my status as their employee does not solely rely on my performance. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to do a  good job, but it is not extremely high stakes. There is also the freedom to work when I choose, so I won’t be constrained by time, especially when I am going to be lifeguarding and taking a summer course. I am excited to begin this new chapter in my life — a new step on the journey towards mastery.

From the blog Sam Bryan by and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Confront Your Ignorance

The apprenticeship pattern I’m addressing this week is Confront Your Ignorance from Chapter 2: Emptying the Cup. This pattern follows the previous pattern in the same chapter, Expose Your Ignorance, which I’ve previously written about here. The idea is that, once you’ve identified where your weaknesses are in your area of work, you must confront those weaknesses in order to grow. It’s hard to know where to start. Sometimes you’ve pinpointed weaknesses in areas where it is expected for you to have expertise, and it seems like you’re the only one who actually has those weaknesses. It’s hard to know where to begin. Confront Your Ignorance suggests that you choose one area and start filling in the gaps. Do so in whatever way is most helpful for you — whether it be through introductory guides or through diving right in.

This pattern is actually very helpful for me in this very moment. Over the past few days, I’ve been dwelling extensively on what I do and don’t know. What is expected of me as a software engineer, and what I expect of myself in this discipline. I’ve come to recognize that I have many weaknesses that I’d like to eliminate — things like algorithms, many topics in systems engineering, and so much more. There’s a lot of things I would like to experiment with, and there are also a lot of things I need to understand before I can do that. Frankly, it has been pretty overwhelming to constantly think of all of these things at once, and it’s been fairly discouraging as well.

I’ve exposed my ignorances (or rather, they’ve been exposed for me through the interview process), and now it’s time to work on them. It’s not going to change over night, and it isn’t going to change all at once. However, it will improve through consistent, deliberate work. That involves choosing one topic and chipping away at it over time. The difficult thing for me is likely going to be choosing which topic to work on, because I have so many things I’d like to learn. I suppose I can’t go wrong though, so long as I commit to learning and keep checking new topics off my list.

From the blog CS@Worcester – James Blash by jwblash and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Pattern 9 – Find Mentors

This week I decided to learn about how to “Find Mentors” by reading the pattern. This pattern gives advice about why and how apprentices should seek out to find mentors to continue down the path to becoming a journeyman. They give tips about attending conferences, joining online forums, and taking your potential mentors out to lunch if you have the opportunity.

I do agree that finding mentors is greatly important in the development process to become a successful software developer, but I think this pattern idolizes a certain type of developer and therefore limits the opportunities for mentorship for those who try to strictly follow what the pattern is advising. This pattern seems to focus on those who are directly working on the development of a particular language, framework, tool, or some variant of open-source software. They even pretty much open with the idea that it is very likely that your mentors are not local and that you will likely never meet them. I think that this is where the pattern is failing.

From my experience, there is almost always someone, or a group of people within a company that those with technical positions turn to for mentorship and advice. At my most recent internship, it was a man named Kurt who has worked on the proprietary software (Oracle) before signing onto the company that we both worked for over the summer (TJX). He initially was a contractor from Oracle, but TJX found that his expertise regarding the frameworks that made up our software made him too valuable to let go of and they hired him full time. He immediately became the go-to guy whenever anyone had a question about our software. He had been working on it for over 15 years and had gone through over 10 iterations of the software. A key thing to note is that while everyone asked him for help, they weren’t asking for mentorship. This is something that came with my internship as he was selected to be my “buddy”, which was just a fancy word for mentor. We spoke several times throughout the summer about both career goals, and different ways to solve problems. We spoke about how to solve certain problems that were specific, yet more general than our specific code base. To get this kind of mentorship, I didn’t need to lurk on an internet forum, and the same went for everyone I worked with that wanted to learn from him. All I had to do was ask. There will likely be a Curt everywhere, any of us end up working, and I plan on utilizing their mentorships.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Road to Software Engineering by Stephen Burke and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Dig Deeper

For this week’s installment of individual apprenticeship patterns I have decided to write about the chapter of our textbook called dig deeper. The reason I did this chapter is because it initially caught my attention with its relatability. The catch with this article was that you have a superficial understanding of different software tools. I find this to be extremely relatable because we see a lot of different tools in our classes and at the same time we don’t have much time to cover the tools and master them. I think in my testing class we were using a new tool every few weeks, which really hurt us in the end because I did not have a chance to fully grasp or understand how the tools(s) worked so I have a very superficial and not very deep understanding of these tools. I could probably use them if I tried hard enough and used google to assist me in my journey. I wish that one of two things happened. I wish we had more time to understand these tools or I wish that we did not cover so many tools, however I do understand that we need to cover many tools because there are many tools out there that are constantly changing and they are always making new tools too. The solution to the problem of not understanding the tools or having just a superficial knowledge of the tools is simple. You have to study and learn the new tools. It kind of sounds intuitive that you would have to spend time to learn the tools, but you really have to spend time to learn the tools. This means doing homework outside of work and being able to understand your learning in these tools. By this I mean not just simply taking an online tutorial on a software tool that you well and fully know will cut corners in attempt to try to make the tutorial more understandable and faster. This may seem good in concept but they are leaving out pertinent information that you need to know to master the tools.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Average CS Student by Nathan Posterro and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sprint 5 Retrospective

Sprint five lasted from April 8th to April 22nd. This sprint, we were focused on completing any big steps left that the project required in preparation for the upcoming sprint, where we will focus on our presentation. For the next sprint, we also have allocated enough time to polish minor details if necessary or finish any uncompleted project features.

My role this sprint was to implement a button that offered more buttons when pressed. This is useful in cases where we have multiple links or related content that can be categorized under a common theme.

To start, I created a new routing module and component for the new button. Yesenia helped me a lot with this task, since she set up the components for the existing buttons. She provided me with the correct commands, ng generate module file-name –routing and ng generate component file-name/sub-file-name. We worked together by bouncing ideas off as we pieced together the HTML and related programming for the new button. By the end of class, we successfully created a new button named dropdown that would rout to a new page, indicating the linked connection was successful.

This was not the full intention however, instead of bringing the user to a new page, the button should display three more options, each of which could have the capabilities to send the user to a new page. I created the three links, but I couldn’t figure out how to hide/show them upon triggering the dropdown button. I deduced that I would mostly have to play with the component.html file, I used the following link as a model of what I wanted to do.

In that link, scrolling down to the section titled “Drawer with explicit backdrop setting” I was able to look at the existing HTML and trim it down to fit the needs of the project. Mat-form-field and mat-option was specifically what I needed and what I used. With few modifications, and again some bouncing ideas from yesenia, I currently have the feature up and running. Some small things that I would like to get done if possible would be changing the color of the dropdown text to match the other buttons, as right now it is very distinguished looking. Also the manner in which the new options appear is not what I originally thought of, instead of creating a pop out list, I was thinking the buttons would appear on the sidebar beneath the dropdown button and would shift all other buttons below it down. The link below shows what I was originally thinking, but I couldn’t make that work as easily.

The reason why I decided to use the other link directly over this one is because I didn’t understand how the provided javascript worked enough to implement it in our project. I’m sure if I dedicated to it, I would be able to get the feature exactly how I want it, but this is not necessary and Ill only change the existing feature if we have extra time.

The focus for our next sprint will be coming up with our presentation and trying to merge our project with some of the other groups projects. We want to be able to combine our side bar with the team working on the search bar without stepping on toes. Tim is currently working on that, I may need to copy and paste some of my work in order to make sure its implemented in the current master branch.

From the blog CS@Worcester – CS Mikes Way by CSmikesway and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sustainable Motivation

For this week’s blog, I chose the Sustainable Motivation pattern from the Apprenticeship Patterns book. The Sustainable Motivation pattern is about keeping your motivation while working in the industry. While working in the industry, things can get tedious, real projects are more rigorous and can be exhausting and often frustrating. As an apprentice, you will encounter these problems while developing your technical skills. You will often find yourself working in the messy specified projects for customers with the always changing demands.

Of course, there are times when you love your job, and your ability to write code seems too good but they will not be your ordinary days. Most of the time there are going to be nasty problems, bugs, and to add to that, your manager wants it soon. That is why you gotta stay calm and focus on the long road. You will most likely stay in the craft because of money and would try to endure the long road. While sticking with it, you then find your love for programming returns. It is going to be a cycle of love and hate relationship. Many programmers get trapped by their motivation. Learning something new gets harder and you see no point in doing so when you are already getting paid for the things you already know.

I totally agree with this pattern. There are going to be an up and down moment while working, I’ve already experienced this problem with my current internship. As an intern, they do not really expect you to do a lot. They do not expect you to actually contribute much to anything they do but expect you do to what is minimally expected of you, and most of it is learning. In my internship, I usually finish the task that was given to me earlier than expected. I would always try my best to finish it without wasting time, and always check with my supervisor if it is what they wanted, but sometimes they are also busy or are not around so I am stuck there with nothing to do. What I do in such situation is go to another department or another employee, then I would always ask if there is anything I could help them with and try to learn new things.

From the blog cs-wsu – Computer Science by csrenz and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.