Category Archives: Week 5

Confronting my Ignorance

This pattern is called “Confront Your Ignorance”. The scenario it is meant to address is when a programmer has gaps in their knowledge that interfere with their work. More specifically, they want to master skills and tools, rather than simply be adequate, yet are unsure of the first step towards that goal. Finding the first step or even admitting they need to find the first step is difficult, particularly in environments where there seems to be an expectation to just have already mastered things.

The solution provided is simple. Pick something you need to learn and then learn it. While it sounds simple, it is easier said than done.

An important skill that I have only recently started thinking about, which this pattern touches on, is the ability to know when you’ve learned enough about a subject and that it’s time to turn your attention elsewhere. Without mastering this skill, one might still go out of their way to study something on their own. In the absence of any clear goals, they may simply give up whenever they get sick of it. This is something I used to do a lot, and it led to situations where I had taken time out of my day to learn something, but the knowledge itself was too incomplete to be useful. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was wasted time, but I think it could definitely have been better spent.

Different people have different approaches that best suit them for filling the gaps in their knowledge. Something I think is pretty important for me is to figure out what my ideal approach is. I have some ideas. For example, I think I tend to prefer concrete examples, hands-on involvement, and at least a general understanding of how the whole system works. Figuring out what works for me in more specific terms would be a good idea also.

I tend to struggle to seek help from peers. In this pattern, the authors suggest working together to learn things, which is something I think can be fun, productive, and worth trying.

One of the core ideas here, which I will talk about in a future post, is the idea of two extremes when learning, which need to be avoided. In one, ignorance is kept totally private, creating an atmosphere where not being proficient to begin with is extremely discouraged. In the other, no attempt is made to prevent one’s ignorance from interfering with a team’s project. Straddling the line between these is another skill that I haven’t really considered before, but should probably get good at sometime soon.

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

The Pattern Of Enthusiasm

I think an apprentice should portray acts of enthusiasm for whatever they are aspiring to learn. I’ve found myself to have copious amounts of enthusiasm for learning how to program and becoming better at it. The issue I run into is finding ways to express that enthusiasm. I get giddy when I think about becoming a great programmer and I certainly wouldn’t want to rub anyone the wrong way because I came off as too much. My current composure and body language around others suggests that I am complacent, although I’m screaming with impatience on the inside. But I wouldn’t want to come across as apathetic for what I’m doing either. As I’ve been skimming over the different patterns in the Apprenticeship Patterns book, there have been many sections that made me feel like the authors were speaking directly to me and this pattern of enthusiasm is no exception.

The authors seemingly think that while being enthusiastic for your craft is an amazing thing, blindly expressing your enthusiasm can actually hurt an apprentice more than it can help them. With this in mind, it is important to curb your enthusiasm to an extent because you do not want to let the excitement you feel for the craft lessen because you don’t want to feel like a nuisance to others around you. As the authors put it, the excitement one feels is “a precious commodity” and I could not agree more.

The sense of discovery can be extraordinarily exciting. It is probable that individuals in well established teams are used to their routines, making discovery likely, but not exactly exciting. The authors mention that this sort of thing is predictable. Developers are always looking for better ways to getting “painful” work done more efficiently. This sounds more like searching for a sigh of relief rather than completing an exciting endeavor, and having with a hyper-passionate apprentice around probably makes tasks like these more grueling.

Finding a team that encourages your enthusiasm is important. An apprentice should be able to recognize a teams dynamic and see where appropriate to show their enthusiasm. If the team doesn’t seem like they would appreciate their apprentice’s ignorance, the authors recommend finding different strategies to nurture your need so that it does not jeopardize your opportunity to learn. However, if the team is open to bright and new fantasy driven ideas, the apprentice may offer new life to the team and boost morale.

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 Pattern: Concrete Skills

This week, I decided to take a look at the “Concrete Skills” apprenticeship pattern in chapter 2. This pattern describes the problem of potentially joining a team, with the expectation that you will learn more than you already know, and the team not wanting to take the risk on someone who may not be able to contribute to the workload. It is important to acquire and develop “concrete skills.” Concrete skills serve as proof of your competence, as it more so demonstrates your ability to apply the knowledge that you have. The pattern suggested that one should always acquire more concrete skills than just the bare minimum required in an interview. It is always beneficial to have examples on hand as proof of what you can offer to the team. The examples of concrete skills provided include writing build files in various languages and having knowledge of popular open-source frameworks. And so, concrete skills help reassure your future teammates that you are capable of contributing without the need for “day care.”

My immediate reaction to the pattern was that I can see myself in this specific situation. The pattern starts with a quote from Pete McBreen, where he states, “Having knowledge is not the same as having the skill and practical ability to apply that knowledge to create software applications.” That quote stuck with me because we can spend years studying a certain topic, but your expertise shows when you apply the knowledge. And reading through this pattern encouraged me to take a deeper look at the concrete skills I have developed thus far.

For the most part, I think this pattern gives some useful tips on how to build an impressive resume and come off as a capable job candidate. The question: “If we hire you today, what can you do on Monday morning that will benefit us?” is something that I will keep in mind since I will need to evaluate myself before even applying for jobs. I do think this pattern gave me a bit more insight into my intended profession. I never really thought about the fact that teams are more likely to hire someone that can be an immediate help rather than someone they would have to teach. So I think this is more encouragement to further acquire concrete skills. Perhaps I will spend more time with frameworks, especially ones we are working with in class such as Vue.

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

The White Belt

The White Belt

This Apprenticeship pattern was about unlearning what you already know in order to learn something new. It is important to do this because, especially with programming languages, what might be a good habit or convention within one language may be inefficient or bad practice within another. I could personally relate to this Apprenticeship pattern a lot because in high school I took an intro to programming class in which we learned the basics of python. I found python to be really confusing at first, but over the course of the school year I became very familiar with it and began to really like the syntax and structure of the language. While this class was very useful and helpful for learning programming, it made it more difficult for me being a computer science major in college.

In college, most of the programming we do is in java. Transitioning from python to java was very difficult for me because they are two very different languages, with different syntax and structure, and different coding conventions. In my experience, it is very difficult to translate from python to java, but somewhat easier to translate from java to python. Although you can translate from java to python, the way of going about things in java is very different from in python, and the direct translation from java to python is likely very inefficient, whereas code written from scratch in python is likely much more efficient in python. This means that in order to learn java, I had to unlearn what I already knew from python. Even things that I felt were general coding practice felt completely different in java than it did in python, which made it really hard to learn java. So, in order to properly learn java, I had to think about the concepts completely independently of similar concepts I knew from python. Even though this was very difficult to do, I find that it actually fortified my understanding of both languages, and helped me to think about them independently of one another.

I couldn’t find anything I disagreed with about this pattern. I think that this is sound advice in general, even outside of software craftsmanship. You can’t be afraid to fail when learning a new skill, because only through failure will you learn to improve. As the Apprenticeship Pattern mentions, this could mean that you will get worse before you get better, as you’d be much less proficient using whatever new skills you’re learning than you were with your old skills. However, the point it’s making is that it’s worth it to see it through, as only then will you expand upon your skillset.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Alex's Blog by anelson42 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Individual Apprenticeship Patterns: Expose your Ignorance

Reading the chapter “Expose your Ignorance”, there were mainly four words that stood out to me: Ignorance, Pretending and Learning ability. This chapter is telling us how important it is in the professional field to embrace our ignorance which is our vulnerability and transform it into our strength by embracing the learning process.

I have been going to school since I was two years old. Even though school is meant to be a place where we all must learn and support each other, exposing our ignorance is not quite something that makes us comfortable. We feel behind everyone and sometimes, asking questions can give a sense of “nonbelonging “or “not having the appropriate level yet” for the class and it is frustrating. This frustration gets worse in the professional world where we are expected to know a lot of things and sometimes, don’t. We are driven to believe that the knowledge of everything is what allows us to keep a job or impress the employers or recruiters.

The other word that stood out to me is “Pretending”. This is actually very interesting because pretending is a temporary mask that sooner or later ends up falling and revealing your true face. However, I wonder if “pretending” can be used by someone to gain time for example, to boost someone’s confidence level and allow the person to learn/ improve while not necessarily exposing his/her ignorance and be uncomfortable.

The third thing that stood out to me was “Learning ability”. I believe that we are never done learning no matter what stage we are in life. Leaning is what keep us going and growing, learning demonstrates a sense of modesty. We put aside what we know, and we learn something new to add to what we knew already. The world is everlastingly growing. New technologies, new improvements, developments happen every day and that should always motivate us to seek more, to want to feed our intellect more on any subject.

In conclusion, I definitely gained confidence about trusting the learning process and not being afraid to expose my ignorance. I personally never worked in my field yet and I anticipate it to be a challenge to get hired in a tech company and meet all the specifications as a freshly graduate. I am planning to be honest with myself and with my team, managers, and clients. That way I am confident to deliver quality and not under deliver because I didn’t have the courage to be myself and allow myself to grow in the process.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Software Intellect by rkitenge91 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

The white belt

Today, I decided to read about “The White Belt” in chapter 2 of the Apprenticeship Pattern book. Basically, this chapter talks about how learning a language and becoming good at it can make us feel confident about what we do; until we have to learn another language that comes to challenge us and question our knowledge. Speaking of the white belt, it basically is trying to make us understand that even if the black belt leads and knows the way, the white belt will have no choice but to follow and learn the way.

The solution gives a clear explanation of what is the white belt and how it is important to unlearn what we have learned in the past and start fresh. By learning a first language, we can practice and get familiar with it. It might make us feel like we know everything until we have to learn a second language that comes to question our knowledge and understanding of the first. It does not mean that we do not know the first language that we learned, but we have to combine and sink both languages and approach it with a mind of a beginner. One thing that I learned from computer science, is that we learn every time. We will never acquire the complete knowledge of coding, programming because there will always be improvements to make, new challenges to overcome and surpass.

Jerry Weinberg said: “In order to climb, you must leave the sure footing, letting go of what you already do well and possibly slipping downwards into a ravine. If you never let go of what you already do well, you may continue to make steady progress, but you’ll never get off the plateau.” What I love about this quote is that we need to understand that in programming, getting off our comfort zone (e.g. meaning letting go of that language that we perfectly know and mastered) and possibly slipping downwards into a ravine (meaning taking the risk to try a new language and not be afraid of the challenges, difficulties it may bring) should not scare programmers. It changed my way of thinking and what I learned is that to be a good programmer, we should be ready to face any challenges. A programmer cannot stay and remain in his comfort zone because he is scared of the challenges and difficulties another language might bring. Then, he will never learn and improve his skills, he will continue to make steady progress without going any further.

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.

‘C’ is For Coding; That’s Good Enough For Me

If you haven’t noticed already, there seems to be a trend of various coding practices that I tend to agree with. This is not merely a case of “kissing up” to the professionals, but rather it is the fact that I know I have been taught from the ground up by well-respected individuals. Many of the practice patterns found in “Apprenticeship Patterns” are ones that I have already been aware of, or still agree with despite their novelty. An additional agreement to add to this repertoire is the importance of “Your First Language”.

For me, this “first language” was C. To be honest, I don’t feel like there is a better option to select. C is an excellent, “mid-level” language that follows many of the practices found within my studies. For example, in “Apprenticeship Practices”, the book warns of becoming stuck within your “native tongue”; I feel as though this is negated (or at least parried) by many of the practices in C. C works closely with hardware, and involves skills found in assembly language, but can also be used to emulate higher level languages such as Java.

When it comes to my professional career, “my first language” is a philosophy that has given me a greater appreciation for the diverse landscape of large-scale projects. The C language has elements similar to Python, such as arrays. While data structures are not an impressive connection (they can be implemented among pretty much any language), it does make crossing the gap easier. Once at Python, I can learn about dictionaries, “key: value” pairs that can have an ideological equivalent found in .yaml files and JSON, and so on.

Interestingly enough, despite the emphasis on programming diversity, the pattern stresses finding a first language and staying strictly to its community. I feel mixed emotions about this philosophy: on one hand, it sounds as though “bridging gaps” found between languages should be avoided. On the other hand, constant practice is the best way to learn a first language, and that practice can be boosted by feedback from a desired community around that language.

Overall, I have an appreciation for the idea that beginner programmers should stick to one language when starting out. However, if I were to make a suggestion for that first language, I would suggest C. While challenging to learn, its connections to other languages and diverse applications can make powerful programmers.

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.

Java and Immutable Objects: A Lesson In Security and Performance

For the longest time Java has been an Object Oriented programming language first and foremost however it was never purely Object Oriented in its design. There exists some objects which are immutable and cannot be changed under any circumstances. String is an example of this and works by having a new object instance created whenever changes need to be made rather than altering the object itself. This is a hallmark of Functional Programming and part of the greater trend of java being pushed to be more akin to Functional Programming languages such as C.

This is something that Ian Darwin reviewed in his Java Magazine article going over the changes Java has seen over time. In this article he asks the question “Why is Java making so many things immutable?”. Put simply the answer is a matter of security and performance with immutable objects being more resilient to attacks and better for performance. Darwin provides examples with the String object which has been immutable since the very beginning. Along with this the Date and time API  has been moved to an immutable package since Java 8.

In the early days of Java there existed Java beans which Darwin describes in the article by the original spec which states: “A Java Bean is a reusable software component tat can be manipulated visually in a builder tool”. What does this mean? It means that Java Beans are more or less Java objects with a set of requirements to be classified as such. There include having set and get methods, expecting to be serialized and implementing the Serializable Java package, and it must provide support for design-time customization. The main takeaway is that these were always mutable and ever since then Java has moved away from this as its language has overtaken servers and enterprises alike.

Why has Java attempted to move to a Functional Programming paradigm? In today’s world many businesses and enterprises utilize Java on a large scale and in general and any way to gain more security or performance in a programming language will do a lot for a language as ubiquitous as Java. The creators understood the need for security with the String class as it has been immutable from the start. We can see below an example thread by Ian Darwin that could take advantage of and break Java’s entire security model if Strings could be modified.

Good Thread: Open File xyz.
InputStream Constructor; call security manager.
Security manager – Read file xyz – Permission is OK.
Bad Thread wakes up at just this moment.
Changes file name string from ‘xyz’ to ‘/etc/passwd’
Yields the CPU
Good Thread
InputStream Constructor: pass /etc/passwd to operating system open syscall
Bad Thread examines memory buffer for useful information to steal

Beyond the security benefits that these immutable objects pose there is also a matter of being able to increase performance of Java. Java is constantly being improved and as it’s performance increases it has become apparent that it is faster to create new objects than it is to modify the properties of old ones. Java lacks the ability to use pointers like C and because of this any extra baggage that can be removed to free up resources helps in a language like Java. If you compare Java at release and Java today, you can see that a myriad of new immutable APIs are scattered across the language as it has grown and evolved. This will likely continue so long as Java is a dominant language in the programming field.


Darwin, Ian. “Why Is Java Making so Many Things Immutable?”,

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.

What is Front-End Development?

During the early days of the web, front-end development was less complex focusing mostly on static documents, linking pages, and basic design. As time went on, more and more functionality has been given to the web browser making front-end development a major field. Front-end development is the client-side programming of a web appl

During the early days of the web, front-end development was less complex focusing mostly on static documents, linking pages, and basic design. As time went on, more and more functionality has been given to the web browser making front-end development a major field. Front-end development is the client-side programming of a web application. This type of development focuses on the design, functionality, and interaction of the webpage with the backend components. 

The structural components of front-end development takes place in HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language. HTML defines the layout of the webpage elements along with their content and properties. Each html element has its own tag name which separates it from others based on the functionality it provides. For example, a video element will provide different functionality than an image element or a header element.

By default, an html page is very bland. CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, is used to style an html page giving each element or a group of elements custom properties. If the background color of the website needed to be black and the text white, this would be done using CSS. 

Other than some simple animations with css, all front-end functionality of a web page comes from Javascript. A once simple scripting language designed for simple html modifications that evolved into a large front-end and back-end programming language. One use of javascript is to dynamically control html elements on the webpage. It also handles making and receiving requests from web servers. 

Originally, when data was submitted in a web application, the entire page would need to be refreshed to pull an updated html document which was common with PHP. Today, a common design architecture is to have a single page web application where the data is synchronized to the webpage without needing to be reloaded to update. 

Due to the complexity of making a single page web application, many frameworks exist to make development easier. These include react, vue, and angular. These frameworks handle linking data to components and binding the data between the server and the client. This way, only the element with updated data needs to be refreshed rather than the entire page. Handling updates in this way makes working with web applications faster and improves the user experience.

I selected this article to learn a bit more about frontend development and its current features. We will be working on client-side development in this class and I thought it would be a good topic to look into. I find it interesting the history of how the web has developed over the years. I will use this guide with its details to help me structure my projects in the future.


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

UML and Design Smells

Over the course of several weeks, we’ve been working with a modeling language called Unified Modeling Language (UML). UML is a visual language that visualizes the structure of a program using UML Diagrams so that its behavior can be analyzed by developers. Different objects and classes, such as a class hierarchy or object composition between classes can be easily represented1. By visualizing the software’s code, the UML Diagrams allow a far quicker way for a developer to analyze its behavior and if necessary, allow refactoring in the code.

Code that is poorly designed can contain what is called Technical Debt. Technical Debt of poor design implements at least one of the seven Design Smells; Rigidity, Fragility, Immobility, Viscosity, Needless Complexity, Needless Repetition, and Opacity2. Code that is difficult to change has the “smell” of Rigidity, and must be refactored in order to allow change and flexibility in design. 

In class and in homework, we’ve been given code and a UML diagram providing the structure of said code. Using the UML Diagrams, we can understand where the code is going wrong, and what to do to refactor the code to remove its Design Smells. Without the UML Diagrams, we’d only have one or two objects or classes at a time to look through, making its structure far more difficult than it would otherwise be without using them.

On the other side of development, creating software while implementing a UML Diagram is very easy to implement, even for a university student. This ease of implementation and its low cost has allowed UML to become a standard through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)1. As such, there does not exist a good reason why a developer would not want to document his implementation using a UML Diagram.

I wanted to discuss UML Diagrams and the Design Smells because I’ve developed software consisting of over 10,000 lines, and it is very easy to establish a confusing nexus of classes and objects. It is also very easy to lose track of the design, or hard to understand the system’s design without something like a UML Diagram. The Diagrams we’ve discussed in class and gone through in the homework is another big reason, as I understood the logic of the code and what needed to be done before I even saw a line of code. I will be using UML Diagrams from now on so I may be able to document my code for myself, maybe even for the students I help tutor that need help understanding class hierarchies.



(Provided a good explanation of UML)


(Good explanation of the Design Smells)

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