Category Archives: Week-2

Reading List

For this week “Apprenticeship Pattern” I have chosen Reading List. It is a pattern about keeping up a running list or more precisely a priority queue, as the author describes it, of books that are worth reading for amassing more knowledge about a given subject. The queue will change or be reorganized many times over the course of it, but it is worth having. Another useful advice in the pattern is to ask your mentors or people more knowledgeable bout a subject about which books they recommend reading.

What I like about this pattern is simply something that I have already started doing, it is interesting to me to find out that it is not only me who had this idea. I think this will be a very useful tool in anybody’s arsenal in their professional career. What I have done is essentially described in the pattern itself. I have talked to some of my colleagues at work as well as my bosses and figured out what books they recommend, after that I have done some research and based on other reviews of the mentioned books I have made my own list.

Not all the books in my opinion need to be about your work or career, if they are helpful in some way then they are worth reading. Any knowledge is good, the best knowledge of course is the one that helps us grow as a person.

One useful thing that I have learned from this pattern is to put my past books on my list and keep them there even after I have read them. This is to help me and other to reflect on them later and to better remember the contents and lessons acquired from the book. The pattern also states that better understanding of the subject at hand will help people refine and organize the list better. I agree with that and like the author states mentors are always a good source of said understanding and any good mentor will always steer you in the right direction. I’m feeling lucky because I have been able to find such a person. Currently due to my student status my reading has stalled to a degree, but I do plan to get back to it as soon as possible.

From the blog #CS@Worcester – Pawel’s CS Experience by Pawel Stypulkowski and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

The White Belt

For this week’s blog post, I decided to write about The White Belt.  This section is in Chapter 2 which is called Emptying The Cup, and if I remember the introduction for Chapter 2 correctly, this chapter 100% belongs in this section. Like all sections in this book, it is split up into 5 sections, context, problem, solution, action, and see also. The context is a short sentence that basically explains the reader is now confident in his abilities in a certain language, and people rely on them for help. I was actually shocked to read this because typically the white belt symbolizes the beginning, and this book’s description of a white belt is knowing a language and helping people. That’s shocking to me because that just means I have no belt because I feel like I’m in no position to be helping people with the skills I have now.

The next section is the problem. This section was also very short, but it should be because it is only discussing the issue. The issue for this section is that it is difficult to learn new things, and that your “personal development may have stalled” (Oshineye, Hoover). While this isn’t an issue for me yet because I am still learning my first language, this could very much be an issue in the future for me as I also struggle with learning new things.

The solution section urges the reader to start to learn new things by unlearning the things he already knows. They use real life examples as well as some code examples to get their point across. I particularly enjoyed the code section because I liked how they showed the same process being done with two “radically different” (Oshineye, Hoover). languages. They did this to show that because you have a solution in one language, you should still learn a new language to broaden your horizons.

This section was a really easy read for me. The part where they talked about how the white belt had to learn the way while the black belt knows the way really hit me because that was how my internship was. I had to watch and learn everyday before I could even do anything, and it was actually nice to learn along the way because I realized there was so much more that I had to learn before starting my real job.

From the blog CS@Worcester – My Life in Comp Sci by Tyler Rego and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Pratice makes permanent

Apprenticeship Patterns is a really interesting book to read and I actually learned a lot from it. For this week, I read about the pattern “Practice, Practice, Practice” and there are a few interesting things I found about it. The pattern starts with a quote by George Leonard saying that masters they don’t just get better by devoting in a particular skill, but they practice getting better and the it gets more enjoyable to perform basic moves over again once they are better. I can definitely agree on this as I think we all have been through a rough beginning of doing something, but when we are better, we would think back how easy it is to do those basic task and we would do those rather than more complex problems that we have to face later on during the process of mastering a skill.
Then the author went on to talk about practice is a long process and it has to be done without interruption, and in a comfortable environment of making mistake. At this part, it is interesting to learn that practice in software development can be in a stress-free and playful environment. For me, I always think that the best way to practice is to join a group project, and there would be one or another thing that would stress me out so easily like if I work in a small group or alone even on a small size project, at some point we would be overwhelm with the amount of work that we have to deal with, or too much concern about security, features, accessibility, etc. and after reading this chapter, it makes me question about my priority on different aspect of the program and maybe I should change in order to get better.
The author also brings up another interesting point is to try to do a bit different for each time we practice and choosing the right thing to practice is very important. In my opinion, I think that should be the most optimize way to discover new things and not to miss out any important things while we are still on the basic level.

From the blog #Khoa'sCSBlog by and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Unleash Your Enthusiasm

Further reading into chapter 2 I find that I relate to many of the patterns in this chapter, However, in my reading tonight I felt a specific interest in UnleashYour Enthusiasm. Unleashing Your Enthusiasm is about taking your passion for the work you do and exercising that passion. Think of it like starting at a new gym. You may not know what to do or the correct ways to do things, you may feel weak, confused, and embarrassed. Even with all of these negative feelings you know that you are excited to learn and get stronger. You may need to ask trainers for help and exercise your want for learning despite the embarrassment. This pattern is primarily about understanding that your passion used correctly is itself a valuable attribute to contribute to a team or teacher.

I find that this pattern goes hand in hand with Exposing Your Ignorance and that are one in the same. In order to unleash your enthusiasm you must be willing to expose your ignorance. If you are new to a team or project you are undoubtedly going to have to learn. You have to know that other more senior members will know more than you and will have to take the time to teach you, which for them may seem counterproductive. Being alright with your ignorance is the first step toward unleashing your enthusiasm. UnleashYour Enthusiasm is more about seeing the value in your ignorance. With this drive for knowledge it can help rekindle the flames of other more senior members who have plateaued and have their fire of passion die down to a smolder.

I find I experience the fear of exposing my ignorance quite often. At this point in my education I am always learning in everything I do. It sounds silly because it’s so obvious, but everything I have learned was once something I did not know. This means I had to overcome some fear and pursue that knowledge. Working with teams of my peers there is often a wide range of knowledge based on experience and backgrounds. It is scary to put myself out there and explain that I may not know something that they are all talking about it, but I have had the courage to do so. Many times I have done this and then had a pleasant conversation with my peers about having the drive for knowledge. It doesn’t pay to be afraid of taking the chance, that chance is knowledge and it gives others the opportunity to share something with you. I find that this unleashing of enthusiasm sparks a great pep talk for any team.

From the blog cs@worcester – Zac's Blog by zloureiro and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Machine Learning Problem Framing

Last week, I gave an overview of my planned independent study project. This week, I’ll give a bit more detail on what I’ve done.

I have a habit of preparing for classes before they start. I buy the text books, get an overview of the material, and prepare to apply learning techniques throughout the semester. This helps me identify problems before the semester starts and address them in class as I go. Likewise with this project, I had hoped to get as much as I could done with machine learning before this semester started to hit the ground running with the software portion. Naturally, my ignorance led me to assume the problem was easier than it actually is. After a great conversation with a communications professor, I realized the problems I was trying to solve had to be broken down.

Counter-intuitively, the broken down problem is more difficult. To recap, my project involves machine learning and audio signal processing. Although great leaps have been made in this field and many problems have been solved, they mostly use clever tricks to achieve the results they get. Take speech recognition for example: your text-to-speech software transcribes nearly 100% correctly. Machine learning models can use huge datasets of audio, as well as commonly-spoken phrases to decide which words you’re most likely to say. The result is that mumbling, stuttering, or ambient noise is a bit more forgivable. On the contrary, transcribing each and every syllable is not nearly as easy, and in fact it’s a problem that has yet to be solved. That’s a shame, considering I was hoping to transcribe an audio sample into phones as part of my process and I somehow doubt I can do it without first getting a PhD.

This realization has led me to take a quick course on machine learning problem framing. It teaches the process of developing an hypothesis and developing a model to prove it, as well as resisting the temptation to shoehorn a problem into machine learning when a heuristic solution is as good or better. I did manage to find examples of using machine learning to solve some of the problems I wanted to (dating back 20+ years, even), but unfortunately they were each limited in scope and would be difficult to use to make a cohesive app. My goal isn’t a Frankenstein project.

In an effort to dig deeper, I’ve also done an introduction to Pandas tutorial, and started on a Tensorflow tutorial. These are surface-level in and of themselves, but help in understanding the higher-level frameworks. My hope is that understanding the basics will allow me to create a model that has an exciting application. In the meantime, I can implement the prerequisite features in software: audio recording and signal processing.

I’m going to dive into more specific problems as the semester goes on and I get more comfortable with the topics. I’ve already come up with a list of ideas and find myself wanting to write posts on small things like Android project flavors and build configuration. Posting thoughts and lessons in a public place has been great for accountability, and my goal is to know these technologies inside and out 4 months from now.

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

Apprenticeship Pattern Review 1: Expose Your Ignorance

This blog is the first in a series of posts that will be covering software craftsmanship patterns I find compelling from Apprenticeship Patterns by Oshineye, Hoover. With these posts I aim to summarize the pattern and explain its relevance to me and software development as a whole.

In short, the “Expose Your Ignorance” pattern is aimed at dealing with a fundamental issue with people living in industrialized society. Software developers are under extreme pressure from managers and team members to know how to use many technologies. Especially in the case where those relying on you are under the impression that you understand how to do something, it can be extremely hard to make it clear that you actually don’t know how to do that something yet. Acknowledging the fact that there is a push to reassure everyone that you know everything and going directly against this is essential to learning as quickly as possible. This is the gist of “exposing your ignorance”.

I constantly feel the pressure to reassure my colleagues that I understand whatever it is we are talking about. I’ve always felt like doing otherwise would make me seem incompetent when in reality it is a sign of maturity. Immediately after reading this pattern I feel as though it made a fundamental shift in my approach to problems. It makes complete sense that mastering this pattern would yield great benefits throughout my career. “The most obvious way to expose your ignorance is to ask questions”(Oshineye,Hoover). Being able to ask questions whenever I am unsure of something can greatly abridge the time it takes me to learn a given skill. Also, in a world where we have near infinite knowledge at out fingertips at all times, I feel that a desire to learn is a much greater skill to possess than “knowing” a lot.

I find it very interesting that the authors make a distinction between software craftsman and experts. I agree that not being able to ask questions can shoehorn a developer into becoming really good at one skill, yet never branching out into others. I personally feel like being an expert rather than a craftsman can make a career in software development grow stale. Being able to nurture a desire to learn is important not only in the context of a software development career, but in everyday life as well. “Expose your ignorance” truly is a pattern that I feel will improve my career as a software developer.


From the blog CS@Worcester – Your Friendly Neighborhood Programming Blog by John Pacheco and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Expose Your Ignorance

This apprenticeship pattern concerns something that most people are afraid to do. Nobody wants to look ignorant in their profession, because we are expected to be competent and knowledgeable and that is what we are paid for.

The main idea is simple: don’t pretend to know something you don’t. This leads to headaches in many ways, but most importantly it will make it more difficult to learn what you need to learn. In software there is an endless supply of new technology to learn and throughout a software career, there will be countless projects that use something you don’t understand. Admitting this fact and asking others for help is the quickest way to learn it. At the same time, you will build trust with your team and show that you know how to learn.

We are trained to look competent from a young age. We need good grades to get into better classes, a better college, the best job possible. Getting a poor grade reflects lack of preparation rather than exposing ignorance, so it’s natural to think that we will be seen as unprepared if we show ignorance in our work. If this fear is realized, it is likely a problem with the culture.

The most important idea in this pattern is showing others that learning is part of the software process. Speaking from experience, I’ve never judged a coworker or classmate for something they didn’t know. Each of us has our expertise, and if I don’t have time to teach something, I can at least be there for support if they need it. What would become an issue, is when someone says they can get something done and only much later admit that they can’t, when it’s too late to get them up to speed.

Likewise, people have always been willing to help in the times I’ve admitted not knowing. More often than not, the response has been mutual frustration. I’ve saved myself a lot of worry by admitting confusion and hearing from tenured employees that “it’s just confusing, I don’t really understand it either”. The result is a collaborative effort where both people come out knowing more, and having a better rapport in the future.

This pattern is an excellent reminder that we’ll never know it all, and that pretending to is not a long-term solution. The suggested action is to write down five things that you don’t understand about your work, and showing it where others can see it. This seems like a good tactic, and I plan to do this on a whiteboard at work. Coworkers who know better than I will hopefully guide me in the right direction.

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

Breakable Joys: what I was missing in my breakable toys

As I picked through the list of Apprenticeship Patterns one of the earlier ones jumped out to me, as it seemed fairly obvious from the name what it was. Upon reading the description I was correct in this assumption and further I had experience with this particular pattern – even if outside of an apprenticeship. That description being a “toy system that [is] similar in toolset, but not in scope to the systems you build at work”. If you were to insert “school” instead of “work”, then I have built breakable toys for the same reason the book describes: to try and fail in private so that your successes can be applied to a real project using the same technologies, but your failures do not come at the expense of said project.

I have a sense already that many of the patterns I pick this semester will be those that I either have experience with or involve skills I feel insecure about. This being a pattern I feel familiar with I hoped to see if I was applying it correctly, and I wasn’t, at least not completely. First, the book stresses that a breakable toy should be like any real toy, fun. I think this is at least one hang up I have had with my own toys is that I try too hard to make them into potentially repurposable that I can use in whatever project I am training for. Instead, I think moving forward I will try first to make something fun, but overengineer it like the book says, such that I can gain as much experience possible from some silly little program.

Additionally, the book mentions making a little wiki as your toy, and this I had never thought of. Initially, I had read this as meaning thoroughly documenting the toy you are building. It makes perfect sense and follows logically one of the best points that has been made to me about learning, which is that the best way to do so is to teach. However, upon subsequent readings I realized they meant developing a wiki with your selected tools. While this certainly would help foster an understanding of yours selected tools, it would clash with the previous goal of being fun, at least in my mind. Instead, despite it being a misunderstanding, I think much could be gained from documenting one’s progress on a breakable toy. Considering I have a spike project to work on currently, I think I will apply these lessons as I begin.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Press Here for Worms by wurmpress and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Introduction to Apprenticeship Patterns

If you are close to graduation as a Computer Scientist or Software Developer, the market for you will be huge. There are unlimited opportunities in the Tech field but should really be prepared for that. How do you see yourself in the professional world? Where do you see your starting point, and what are your future goals? An inexperienced Software developer, you have to be an apprentice, and following the long way of this journey, you will be a master, unless something goes wrong – like really wrong.
Reading “Apprenticeship Patterns” by Adewale Oshineve and Dave Hoover, will give you the first jump on the “Software Craftsmanship” world.

The term Software Craftsmanship is used to illustrate the skills you need to be successful in this journey. Being a Software Craftsman, you don’t need to have coding skills, you need creativity, you need to build your crafts, design your ideas, solve the problems avoiding complexity. Sounds fun, right? Yes, it is actually fun if you enjoy it, and if you know how to start from point zero. Imagine if you are a baby: you need to learn how to walk before traveling the world. You need to learn how to talk and read before being a scientist. So, you must be an Apprentice and follow the pathway that is important for you. One step at a time, learning from your masters and applying your skills will make you jump to the next phases. However, if you need to maintain your skills you don’t need just to practice them, you should also pass them to the other people.

At this point, you will not be an apprentice anymore, you will be a journeyman! Being a journeyman does not mean that you do not need to learn anymore, you should still follow your mentors, they will still be your masters who open new doors of your mind. You will still be focused on your craft, your ability to develop your skills, to advance the complexity of your designs. As a Journeyman, you should have created your portfolio, which represents your experiences, your knowledge and your ability to be a craftsman.

Next step, you will be a master. As a master, you will be an apprentice: you will keep learning and develop your skills, you will be a journeyman: you will keep building your portfolio and expand your craftsman ability, and Master: you have to move the industry forward and pass your knowledge to the new apprentices. Being a master means that you have all the needed skills and experiences to be a true craftsman. You will have the ability to design, architect and construct your crafts.

As you go through this journey you will need to make important choices. You should always need to be careful about what you choose, money or experience. Money can give a good life, financially, but skills and experience give you more opportunity and open more doors for your future. Ready to start your journey? Good luck…

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

Apprenticeship Patterns: Software developers

Currently, I am reading an assigned book, “Apprenticeship Patterns” for my CS class. It is one of the simplest books so far I’ve read at university for a CS course. The book is written for upcoming software developers who are lost or in other words, are unaware of how to balance and increase their knowledge in the developing field.  

The author explains the meaning of software developers by connecting it to apprenticeship, which is a way of “equipping programmers by teaching them to value learning over the appearance of smartness to relish a challenge and use errors as routes to mastery.” It is a way to learn about being a good Software developer. The basic concepts were defined and it is agreeable how Apprenticeship Patterns help establish a good software developer. 

 The author portrays it simply, to be a software developer there are few basic keys phrases that need to be understood:

  • Adopt changes based on feedback
  • Pragmatic rather them dogmatic
  • Failure happens so that lessons are learned
  • Welcome all the elements of the software developing community
  • Surrounding yourself among people who are as eager as you are, or smarter than you. Growth is important and it comes from learning by others.

Where kept me going was the short stories that were introduced before the main idea. It helped me stay focused. After reading the short stories it helped me connect to the point that the author was stating. What caught my attention was the short story of the “Emptying The Cup”. The meaning behind the story refreshed my mind in knowing that no matter how well you know, adopting new skills won’t do any harm hence it will increase the ability to enhance the knowledge of what is being taught.

It agrees with the author that you are never done learning there will always be something to learn in order to grow. One phase of language or skill is never sufficient. After reading the chapters, I have been focusing on what needs to be done. I am currently looking for opportunities to learn and communicate with other software developers. 

I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who is pursuing a career in a Software developer.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Tech a Talk -Arisha Khan by ajahan22 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.