Category Archives: Week 5

Retreat Into Competence

Retreat Into Competence seems like the ideal apprentice pattern to apply this week. Our capstone team is in the process of discussing ideas for implementing the AMPATH application with offline capabilities. The problem is that I have become keenly aware of how complex this project is for me to even begin to understand. I’ve been noticing that my limited knowledge of Angular is certainly hindering my process. So I started to think to myself, “what can I learn more about that can help me move forward with the AMPATH project?” Then, and I’m not kidding here, I started thinking about this textbook trying to remember the name of the pattern that discussed what I should do when I feel I’m in over my head. I found it, and as the name suggests, I should Retreat Into Competence.

There’s an Angular tutorial by sitepoint that I have done portions of at least a couple of times before. It’s incredibly helpful and seems to cover every important aspect needed to develop applications in Angular. I’ve used it last semester when I first started learning both Angular and Typescript for the first time.  Now I’ve been finding myself going back to it again and again. I feel this is a great way to Retreat Into Competence because it’s something I’ve done before and become at least somewhat familiar with. Right now I’m in the process of going through the tutorial as thoroughly as possible to ensure I understand every piece of code that’s in there. I think I’ve got the CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) part down, which helps boost my confidence a bit as I proceed to tackle the more complex topics. But I’m still Retreating Into Competence, and I know I have some more substantial learning to do before I can say that I’ve successfully finished applying this pattern.

Ultimately, I need to work on better understanding how the AMPATH application communicates back and forth to a remote server.  I had at least a high level understanding of the “Todo app” discussed in the sitepoint tutorial. And when I “retreated into competence” and started to go through the tutorial again in a meticulous fashion, Angular is seeming more clear to me than ever before. I am hoping to finish the sitepoint tutorial section regarding REST (Representational State Transfer) APIs before my next team meeting on Tuesday. Learning more about the workings of REST and mock servers should help provide some clarification regarding how the AMPATH server communication works. Then perhaps as the pattern suggests, I can “launch forward like a stone from a catapult” after momentarily Retreating Into Competence.

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

CS@Worcester – Fun in Function 2018-02-18 23:46:51

“The Deep End” resonated with me, not because I’ve applied the pattern before, but rather because I’ve been thrown into the deep end. When I took Data Structures at a different college over the summer, I found out the course was being taught using C, which I hadn’t yet learned. My dad accurately described the task ahead of me as, “Here’s a new [human] language. Write a novel.”

Worse, the professor was often unhelpful. The pattern, which encourages taking challenges and high-profile roles, warns that you could end up in over your head and drown in trying to apply it. I actually compared my emotional state those first couple of weeks to drowning in the middle of the ocean, because I was so out of my depth, no one could help me, and the consequences of failure were drastic. And I was failing for a while. Assignments were graded using an automated system that tended to give out 100s or 0s with no in-between, and 10 points got taken off for every day late. I fell behind and was submitting assignments late, which in turn gave me less time to work on the next one.

The Deep End identifies Find Mentors and Kindred Spirits as patterns that can be used to mitigate its risks. What eventually made me feel less like I was drowning was identifying the one tutor available for the class who seemed to know what he was doing and reaching out to him for help. He was accommodating and even offered to look at my code outside of his tutoring hours. It was, in fact, finding a mentor/kindred spirit that enabled me to salvage the situation.

Good things came of surviving the deep end. I was able to take Robotics the next semester because my knowledge of C made me feel more prepared than I would have otherwise. My Unix Systems Programming course this semester is also turning out to be much easier than it could’ve been.

The idea for action given at the end is also interesting. The writers suggest rating every project you’ve ever worked on using your own ways of measuring complexity or difficulty, and then plotting new projects that come along in a chart with the others. This seems like a good idea for making sure your career trajectory is going up and consistently challenging you instead of stagnating.

As a final note, the idea of applying this pattern by taking high-profile roles also reminded me of a principle one of my role models has: that if you’re given something you feel you don’t deserve, the answer isn’t to refuse, it’s to take it and work hard to deserve it.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Fun in Function by funinfunction and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Nurture Your Passion

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

Emptying the Cup: Concrete Skills

In this section of the Apprenticeship Patterns, the term “concrete skills” was introduced. It gives us an overview of why having certain concrete skills are necessary to have, especially when you, as an apprentice, will start developing your craft in the software development team. For example, a concrete skill can be your “First Language”, where you have prior knowledge and skills on understanding the programming language and knowing how to implement it in an IDE.

“Having knowledge is not the same as having the skill and practical ability to apply that knowledge to create software applications.”

I found this idea very useful and I completely agree with it because a developer who has adequate or substantial knowledge in software development has no value in their team if they do not know how to implement their knowledge in their craft. Therefore, the develop has no value in their team, and is nothing more than a dud in the team.

“The point is that you will often require hiring managers to take a leap of faith in choosing you. Concrete skills (which are ideally discrete enough that you can bring toy implementations to an interview) allow you to meet them halfway. The concrete skills you possess are your answer to the question: “If we hire you today, what can you do on Monday morning that will benefit us?” A deep understanding of ‘Your First Language’ will help establish your credibility and should prove to be extremely useful to your team.”

This idea supports that programming languages can be an effective concrete skill to have. Programming Languages, however, are not the only concrete skills that developers may need to have. Team management, communication, and organization skills are also necessary to have in order to have an efficient and cohesive team.

Reading this Apprenticeship Pattern made me think about the development capstone class because it made me evaluate myself and my team members on where we stand in acquiring our concrete skills. Within the past couple weeks, I’ve been trying to get use to Angular by doing more of the Angular tutorials so I can be well equipped on that knowledge on how use Angular. I think that would be a great task for me to do so in case if my teammates need help on Angular, I can show them, which is how I can be become a valuable asset to the team and our success.

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

Find Mentors

It’s important to realize that the path you are taking (it doesn’t matter what path that is) has more than likely been traveled before, or at the very least where you stand at the beginning of your career is where many have stood before you.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel and learn all the ins and outs while trying to determine and travel your career path without guidance.  There is an abundance of craftsmen with a career full of information out there, whether it is your boss, a senior team member, or just someone in the field that you look up to.  What is important is that you seek them out and develop an open dialog back and forth with them so you can prosper in whatever you decide to do.  Ideally you want to find a master craftsman that has walked a good distance along the path and not someone who is only a few steps in front of you.  While you should still develop a relationship with the person in front of you, and is the basis of other apprenticeship patterns, it is not as a mentor and not the topic of this post.  Your mentor should also be ready and willing to accept the responsibility of taking on an apprentice.  It is a very fulfilling and very important relationship to develop in your career and will benefit you greatly to learn from their experience and grow as a developer.  Remember though that your mentor does not know everything though and is not infallible.  There should be a respectful, open, back and forth communication between both of you.  A communication designed not just to receive directions and blindly follow them to build your career, but one where you can ask why they made those choices in their own career or why they are recommending this course of action to you.  One that is strong enough not to crumble if you take in your mentor’s advice and in the end still decide not to follow it, but to take a different route that they may not agree with but still respect your choice.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Tim's Blog by nbhc24 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Unleash Your Enthusiasm

Most apprentices like me always face problems such as frustration and discouragement from peers and even their craftsmen sometimes. It is my dream as an apprentice to excel in my learning.  Some craftsmen will always intimidate their apprentices and it takes a brave and focus apprentice to stay on track. Sometimes, it is not just the craftsmen that will give you hard time. Being in a team that dictates your contribution can cause you a lot of damage in your learning. As a first comer, those who have been in the apprenticeship for years might have the mind set of you not knowing anything yet and will not value your contributions. Also, moment you have that feeling of fear and not able to speak out your ideas, you are on your way to failure.

However, this pattern has good information that can help me as an apprentice to figure out how to deal with most situations whiles learning.  One thing I have come to notice is that you cannot meet your desired expectation if you have no passion for what you are learning. Being happy or excited of what you learning or working on will actually enable you to put much effort into achieving your goals.

I am actually surprised of what makes a better team. Even though I am aware that a team of experience members can have problem due to everybody trying to be the leader, I usually think they will still have a better result. A team with varying levels of experience is the least I can think of being successful in its activities. I also think, believing in yourself that your contribution to a team will make a difference will enable you to openly speak out. Sometimes, I try to get as much as I could from my team members by listening to all they have to offer but very careful of what information I am taking from them because more often they are either misleading or conflicting with what I knew.

Again, I am not surprise craftsmen learn from their apprentices because a good apprentice will always search for knowledge outside his confined area and when his findings are openly embrace, craftsmen will benefit from it. Reading this pattern has impacted me with ideas that will help me focus on my apprenticeship journey. I will openly unleash my enthusiasm and would never allow others or circumstances around me to dictates what I can offer to my team.



From the blog CS@Worcester – Computer Science Exploration by ioplay and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Unleash Your Enthusiasm

I thought this section of Apprenticeship Patterns presented a fascinating take on how newcomers might fit in with their more experienced counter parts when entering the professional world of computer science. The authors describe the role an “apprentice” might want to take when working in a team of seasoned computer scientists. They explain that it is common place for newcomers to “fly under the radar” and not speak their ideas due to lack confidence in their ability to be a contributing team member. They point out that while every team may differ, teams typically benefit from having team members of varying skill levels, even “apprentices.” The authors also cite a study involving aircraft carrier crews that showed that it is healthier for teams to consist of people with different degrees of skill and experience and found that newcomers played an integral role in the team dynamic. Finally, the authors propose that newcomers should in fact “unleash their enthusiasm” in hopes that their excitement will rub off on other team members as well as keep other team members on their toes through asking many questions on why things are the way they are as well as presenting fresh ideas.

I honestly found this particular pattern to be extremely relatable as I am currently a newcomer in a security team that is made of individuals who have varying degrees of skill level, experience, and expertise.  When I first started, I admit that I was a little intimidated by all the tools that were being used not to mention all the acronyms being thrown around in meetings that I had never heard of before. However, I feel like that feeling of being overwhelmed pushed me to want to learn more about security and obtain the same kind of knowledge possessed by my coworkers while at the same time applying the knowledge I have acquired throughout the course of my college career. I also feel like I really lucked out because of the willingness of each of my team members to answer my questions and give me advise. After reading this pattern I think I will ask questions and speak up more confidently at work because now I know that it is important to bring a fresh perspective to a team.

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