Category Archives: Week 9

Week 9: Sweep The Floor

For this week, I chose to read the pattern ‘Sweep the Floor’ from Chapter 4: Accurate Self Assessment. This chapter is on, as you can read from the name of the chapter, accurate self assessment. I did another pattern from this chapter not too long ago but I think this chapter is easily the most relatable for me at least. For this pattern, the context of it is that you are a new apprentice on a project. I chose this because I could relate this back to when we were first starting our group projects and getting into our teams. It was a foreign experience to me since I hadn’t had an internship yet or anything of the sort. For the problem of the pattern, it revolves around you being unsure of your place on the team and the team is unsure of you. This was relatable to when we first started, we didn’t know each other and our work flows. Luckily, we were doing Scrum so we had a leader basically ease us into things. Additionally, the problem also is wishing to find a means of contributing to the team’s work, earning the team’s trust and growing as a craftsman.

For the solution, it followed the same approach as most of the solutions in this chapter were. Pushing yourself to do tasks in order to grow as a craftsman. With this pattern, the solution was to volunteer for simple, unglamorous tasks. This is ‘sweeping the floor.’ Doing tasks that are mandatory to the program’s success such as maintenance reports, bug fixing, code review, etc. I thought this was interesting because my approach to getting trust from a team is doing the hard work first in order to show I know what I’m doing and to show that I won’t let them down. However, this approach seems more personable than my approach and much simpler, on paper, as well. This solution does come with caveats though, as mentioned in the solution. One problem is you may become the team’s gopher, this means being condemned to doing menial tasks no one else will do. I, for one, don’t think that’s a big problem but I guess it depends on the person and their ambitions. Another problem is that you may find yourself intimidated by doing anything other than sweeping the floor. I can kind of understand where this point of view comes from but for me, I don’t think it would be much of an issue transitioning between hard tasks to relatively simple, menial tasks.

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

“Nurture Your Passion”

Passion is the devotion we invest in of our interest, could be a hobby, sport, or even a profession. Upon reading the book “Apprenticeship Patterns”. There are multiple chapters that are divided up into 35 patterns to give a breakdown of the broad idea of being a craftsman. For example, I have read chapter 3 “Walking the Long Road”, towards the pattern of “Nurture your Passion”. This pattern entails about keeping a strong leveled mentality. Going into our career field as a software developer which the environment would cause an impact on one’s passion. This pattern gives us an idea on how to tackle this situation. 

After understanding the purpose of this pattern, I saw it made sense to find multiple ways to help keep positive during workflow. The section of drawing your map caught my attention because whenever we have a certain goal, dreams, and needs it is separated out from our work goals, dreams, and needs. Two different lives which you try to maintain but eventually it outweighs each other which conflicts you. Personally, speaking we would rather just be selfish and accomplish our own goals and dreams. We are only human. But at the same time, we do not want it to conflict our mindsets when it comes to our profession.

For the type of action, they would want to conduct to keep our passion in check was to write up a list to control a conversation.  It is true you must keep a cool mind and keep your mind positive. But there will be days where things will not work out. For example, what if you had a bad day, the only it will do is put you in a funk for whatever reason It may be. Work related. Personal related. There are many factors you don’t have control like an environment or said workflow. 

I believe that I can take these steps but not all of them. I do agree that you must absolutely make sure the passion is there and do however to protect it because it what makes us motivated to stay concentrated. People are different and should be able to nurture their passion differently. Composing a list can help but nobody would like to compose one before work daily, that can be taxing. Sometimes you must be selfish, such as leaving work while the team are staying late. Just playing it by ear on a daily as it can shift constantly. A road we are set and take the necessary actions. 

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

Apprenticeship pattern: The Long Road

For this week, I decided to read on chapter 3, “The Long Road” which talks about the reality of software and the reasons that should be behind it. Many people probably have their own vision of computer science, and most of them are about getting the highest-paying job, just like the chapter describes it.

One thing that we need to understand with technology is that it evolves all the time and changes. We need to understand that the more technology constantly changes, the more our knowledge needs to be increased and developed. Technology/computer science is about adaptation, change, learning all the time because it will never stop improving and increasing, so should be our brains.

When the author says, “You should be prepared for the length of this journey”, it means that we should always keep in mind that as software developer, the expectation of working, learning everyday should be part of us. That is something that I learned while being a computer science major; that it’s an everyday school even for those who are done and those who are still in schools. When we aspire to become a master software craftsman, we need to understand the work taht is behind it and the devotion, dedication and time we need to invest in them. We need to value long-term growth opportunities and be open to new knowledge because that will be the only way to become better at what we do and improve the skills we already have and also, gain new ones. It’s a lot of work and will take time, but at the end, it’s our reward from working hard and giving everything we could to become great software developer. Success is part of it, and all the benefits taht come with the hard work, btu we should not think of them as the main motivation as apprentice.

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.

Concrete Skills

In approximately 6 weeks, I will become a new graduate student, and as I have not yet found an entry position for any company, it seems like I have no choice but to take any opportunity which comes first. Looking for a company makes me doubt that I am not good enough to qualify for any position and the waiting period is a bit frustrating and annoying.

An infamous reason that I heard from my friends is because I needed employers to sponsor me working authorization due to my international status. I was told that if employers see that option is on, the candidate’s document will immediately be excluded. Somewhat unfair but I will have a chance to verify it myself after earning myself working authorization and now I can be treated fairly by the applicant tracking system.

Besides, I think I made some mistakes in creating my resume initially that I did not include enough ability to show I am a good fit for the position. It is understandable that companies will not risk hiring someone who may not be able to directly contribute to the team’s workloads, even automate some simple manual tasks. Since my resume back then was poorly written, I failed to advertise myself to get the hiring manager’s intention.

Luckily, my action over the problem was kind of similar to what I read from the book, by collecting CVs from different people from the Internet and by hearing some tips and tricks from my friends on how to make my CVs better, I was able to rewrite my resume and checked it with different trusted ATS sites. Furthermore, my understanding on the subject improved considerably since then, so I can add more properties to the CVs. Comparing my initial CVs with my current one, it seems like I am now ready to reapply for every suitable position.

In conclusion, it could be tough getting to my first job, but as I started to be hired, it will be easier by then. Besides, I learned that I should put more preparation in my CVs, make a section to list every concrete skill that I have and related to the specified projects in the CVs.

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

Apprenticeship Patterns: Chapter 2

Confront Your Ignorance

This pattern specifically covers an area of your skill-set or knowledge that you are not well-versed in. It challenges you to take the thing you are ignorant of that is relevant to your work or perhaps relevant to future work and invest your time to master it. The roundabout way of doing so is, as it describes, to pick the skill-set or technique and fill those gaps.

Seems simple enough but I felt as if this pattern is missing a bit of useful advice. Your personal growth when confronting your ignorance is more than organizational as the actions describes. It’s a matter of personal reflection and recognition. It’s definitely easier to say, “hey I know nothing about network communication”, and harder to recognize your own competency in network communication. The pattern does cover a bit of this, but it seems to focus far more in directly confronting easier problems.

I picked this specific pattern as it directly impacted how I worked during this semester’s sprints. In specific I applied this pattern unknowingly when I was thinking about working on a specific issue that related to using html. I have seen html code and references to it plenty of times during my college career but have never really used it before. I also overhead fellow classmates speak about it on rare occasions and mention building a custom resume styled website using html and other tools. I have had plenty of introductions and chances to learn something that is common in computer science, yet I have never taken the chance to learn it. At the start of the first sprint, I finally confronted my own ignorance around html and put myself into a situation where I would have to learn it in order to complete the issue. While I could have done this at any time it seemed prudent to place myself in a position to succeed at and implement to help motivate me to fill my gap in knowledge. This is why I felt like this pattern should describe learning how to identify your weaknesses a bit more as just knowing your weakness is quite different as confronting it is. One is merely a slight acknowledgement and the other lets you learn how to continually find your gaps.

From the blog CS@Worcester – A Boolean Not An Or by Julion DeVincentis and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Learn How You Fail

This apprenticeship pattern talks about how software developers should learn about how they fail. It specifically discusses how apprentices should seek to identify the ways in which they tend to fail and attempt to resolve those that they think are worth fixing. It should be noted that this apprenticeship pattern is not about dwelling on past mistakes nor is about seeking perfection. Rather, the goal is to get a better understanding of yourself and your behaviors, habits, patterns, and conditions that lead you down the path of failure. With the knowledge gained of yourself, you will have an awareness of your boundaries and limitations. This awareness could also help you make conscious decisions about your actions, goals, and career as well as temper the tendency towards idealism.

By becoming conscious of the things that lead you to failure, you permit yourself the choice between working to fix them or cutting your losses. It is important to accept that there will some things that you are either not good at or simply require you to invest too much time and effort to make a small improvement. This will feed into your accurate self-assessment, but it also allows you to set realistic limitations on your goals. It is impossible to be good at everything, and accepting your limitations is important because it forces you to consciously acknowledge distractions and focus on your goals.

I personally think that learning how you fail is an incredibly valuable skill to gain. Failure is inevitable, and everybody at some point or another is going to experience it. If somebody does not experience failure, then that means they either have not pushed their abilities to their limits or they have learned a way to overlook their mistakes. Learning to recognize your failures, what led you to fail, as well as what you can learn from your mistakes is all vital to growth. It also helps software developer apprentices like myself have the ability to make better career decisions when drawing career maps for ourselves because learning how we fail allows us to be aware of our limitations and boundaries.

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

Craftsmanship Log #5 – Learning how I fail

               I mentioned in a previous post that, essentially, failure is as much an important factor of the learning process, at least for those who use the mistakes they make as an opportunity to reflect and properly understand the new knowledge that they may have gained. This means that our learning process has helped us, in a way, adapt our way that we approach problem solving so that we may avoid falling into any pitfalls depending on what we are needed to work on or properly utilize any techniques that we may have picked up for the right situation. However, no matter how diligent we are in our learning, we all have certain strengths and weaknesses that play a major role in each individual apprentice’s learning process. This situation is elaborated in the pattern titled “Learn how you fail”.

               Now, it is important to understand what is really means to “fail” in this case. This patter is not about an apprentice being unsuccessful in their craft and giving up without putting the proper amount of work to improve. Rather, it is about an apprentice’s acknowledgment of where their weaknesses related to their craft lie, which weaknesses does one feel they are worth working towards mending, as well as how to approach their craft in such ways that their weaknesses do not interfere. When one needs to learn how to fail, what they are really learning is developing the self-awareness that is needed to further hone their craft. While being an expert on a specific concept may be convenient, turning into a one-trick pony because one is complacent in what they are good at and do not feel like taking the risks necessary to improve their craft will do an apprentice more harm than good in the long run. An example from my own experience (though not CompSci related) that comes to mind is from my job as a tutor; while I am familiar with all the mathematics courses I am expected to know, I am aware of my weaknesses in the way I tend to communicate certain concepts to others. Through experience, I learned how exactly that weakness manifested so that I would make sure to change the way I would communicate my knowledge to others.

               Though gauging how far we have progressed in our learning process based on the number of our successes may help us in building up confidence to continue honing our craft, it is important to acknowledge and admit our weaknesses, as well as knowing which weaknesses are worth improving or avoiding provided we take the necessary risks.  

From the blog CS@Worcester – CompSci Log by sohoda and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Breakable Toys

The breakable toys design pattern proposes a solution to working in an environment that does not welcome failure. Since failure is such a huge part of the learning process, it is important to create a private space outside of work where failure will not damage anything. Hoover and Oshineye recomend building a simple system that is relevant to your work and easy to build upon. For example, you could build your own wiki and use it to learn HTTP, databases, and web design. You should enjoy the thing you are building so that you are motivated to keep building and breaking it.

I think this design pattern is really interesting. I can see how it would be useful to have a private project to mess around with and not have to worry about breaking it. This seems like a very good way to build up your confidence in an area while also being able to experiment with new skillsets. I also think it is useful to build a project you are personally interested in. If you are interested in the project you are using to learn, you are more likely to keep experimenting with it.

I probably will wind up adopting this design pattern once I enter my professional career. I like the idea of having a private project to experiment with; it would be nice to have the chance to get more comfortable with concepts I’m less familiar with in an environment where failure has few consequences. I am specifically interested in the example the book mentions of creating breakable games. Especially if it’s a project I’m interested in and enjoy working on, I think it would be easy to keep myself interested in working on it.

I do disagree with this being the solution to a work environment that doesn’t allow for failure. I think any work environment should be able to tolerate failure; if your work expects you to succeed all the time, you should not be working there. Rather than taking on extra work in an effort to avoid failure, you should find a healthier work environment.

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

Sustainable Motivations

Sustainable Motivations is an apprenticeship pattern that touches on the idea that despite loving programming issues such as frustration, lack of motivation, and in extreme instances burnout are still very possible. This apprenticeship pattern discusses how to deal with issues and attempt to mitigate them before they even really begin. One way to go about this is to make sure you keep a healthy balance between your work life and personal life. The apprenticeship pattern also gives anecdotes about times other developers dealt with an issue regarding a loss of motivation or uncertainty about what direction they want to take their careers.

To be honest this apprenticeship pattern did not click with me as well as the other ones I have read about so far. While I agree with the overall statement that you need to keep your ambitions and work in check to ensure you can maintain a steady level of motivation, it doesn’t really go into too much detail on how to go about it. The example I mentioned in my initial paragraph is one of very few where the authors actually talk about ways to manage this issue. They do reference another apprenticeship pattern called walking the long road, which discusses similar issues; but as an over all approach to trying to solve the specific problem they presented in this pattern the solutions given were mostly abstract and anecdotal. There is not too much that I can clearly take away from this pattern. Regardless there is still some lessons that I think are valuable, mainly the example I mentioned earlier regarding balancing time.

In my own life I have struggled with healthy balance of time. I tend to fluctuate between two extremes, either over focusing on work and sacrificing my personal life, or over focusing on my personal life and having my work suffer. Given this I can understand what this pattern is trying to say in that regard. While I was aware of this balancing issue in my life and have improved on it over time, reading through this pattern emphasized the importance of a good work life balance through anecdotal examples of issues other developers have also gone through.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Sebastian's CS Blog by sserafin1 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

CS 448 Post #4

I moved on to chapter 4 for this post and wanted to start with the first problem for it, Be the Worst. The problem is here when you learned all you can about a certain skill or skillset and cannot grow any more at your current position, with the solution to this problem being to move on to another position and group where you are the worst at what is being worked on. That way, you will have plenty of room to grow and you have help for when you make mistakes. It’s a case of starting from the bottom and working your way to the top. I can see how effective this can be and it has been successful for others, but I also agree with the possible risks that may come from this tactic, such as bringing the team down, not catching up, and possible self esteem issues. It can lead to problems not just for you, but for your team. However, you can deal with these risks by joining teams that are open to this mindset, and/or checking in with the team on your progress to make sure you are not falling behind.

Some people prefer working with others and can improve faster than they would if they were alone. I usually work with other people that I have similar skill levels with, so I don’t have that many examples of teams that I have been in where I or someone else was the “worst”. I do have examples where I was having some trouble and was worried about falling behind, and I would talk with the other members for tips or to get help on what I was working on. However, I do usually try to figure things out on my own because I sometimes think I may be bothering my teammates. This has led to some issues where I came close to falling behind, but I was able to deal with it before it became a problem.

Collaborating with others is a very effective way at working and improving yourself, and the idea of being the worst in a group and working your way up over time is a successful path, but does come with risks that you will need to be able handle.

From the blog Jeffery Neal's Blog by jneal44 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.