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Cattle Drive any good?

Jack Moore Iii
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2012
Posts: 76
I'm basically looking to upgrade my knowledge of Java from crap to entry level job quality in the shortest amount of time possible, because I'm tired of letting my CS degree go to waste, and all the side effects of doing so. Will the Cattle Drive assignments and nit picking help in a significant way? I mean, I know I could just do the assignments myself, but then again I've never had a job as a developer. So do the volunteers know what type of code will make employers shut up and hire me? I've already read through the K&B SCJP6 book once, and most of it was lost on me, possibly because I barely knew how to write a "Hello World" program when I started (I was still wondering when the cout << statements were coming). I'm motivated to continue cramming all the on the job knowledge I can into my brain. But is this the best use of my limited funds as per learning potential? And are there any additional assignments to be accessed that aren't available publicly?...
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11419
    
  16

There are no additional assignments that become available once you enroll. It's all out there for you to see.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Katrina Owen
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 03, 2006
Posts: 1364
    
  17
There have been a few threads with some feedback:

the satisfaction of learning
confidence building
early impression of the cattle drive
general effect of the cattle drive
thinking of joining the cattle drive
Jack Moore Iii
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2012
Posts: 76
Hmm, a lot of posts are commenting about learning humility or something similar. That's boring! I'm the best and I want to continue believing that! I suppose there's no harm in having constant feedback of any kind. And what's Christmas money good for if you don't invest it...

Edit- Do we need to buy that book or can I just used the K&B book I bought instead for reference? Plus... there's the internet.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11419
    
  16

In my opinion, you don't need the book. The exercises may refer to specific pages to help you learn <whatever is next>, but any good programming book should have what you need. You'll just have to work a little harder to find it.

and "the K&B book I bought" isn't very specific. They have written a few books, and some would be more appropriate than others.
Jack Moore Iii
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2012
Posts: 76
The SCJP6 book. I wish we could keep these yellow belts past Jan 31st. They look stylish...
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11419
    
  16

Ah...i see that now in your original post...

My personal opinion is no.

The SCJP book's purpose is to prepare you for the exam. it is not supposed to teach you java. That may be why "...most of it was lost on [you]"

You would do better with something like Head First Java or Thinking in Java.
Jack Moore Iii
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2012
Posts: 76
Well, I joined up. Now if Hotmail would just not choose today to go down so I could send in my first assignment. I suppose I could just use a different e-mail, but it's probably better to keep the one I signed up with the same one for submitting my code...
Katrina Owen
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 03, 2006
Posts: 1364
    
  17
Just to confirm: You don't need the book. Also: you don't necessarily need to use the same email that you signed up with, we usually figure it out based on the name

Welcome.
Phil Freihofner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2010
Posts: 115
    
    1
My Java coding is largely self taught. I have some working experience with MS Access/SQLServer and with VisualBasic 6 and .Net, but nothing as object-oriented as Java. Thus, having code review by the nitpickers has been well worth it. Are you familiar with the concept of blind spots? It is one thing to read an excellent book on OOP or refactoring or good/effective style, but entirely another to be held to these standards by a nitpicker.

I haven't applied for my first Java job yet, but I recently met a recruiter that has heard about and respects JavaRanch and the CattleDrive. She definitely thought this experience was a plus and encouraged me to include mention of any earned badges in the resume. I have two badges and am working towards the third.

I launched my first github project a couple months ago (first actual Java collaboration) and my collaborator (a seasoned Java pro) did not run away screaming when he saw my code. He's still there, and I am learning a lot from the process.

You will have to cope with some questionable CattleDrive "style guide" choices. You may get frustrated in that it is pretty easy (usually) to program a working solution, but considerably harder to get past all the nitpicks. There is an emphasis on maximizing the readability of the code for someone who is looking at it cold or for the first time. It is quite difficult, imho, to look at something you just wrote and is still fresh in your mind AS IF you were reading it cold. But such objectivity is an important skill to learn (in any profession).

The timing of the responses can be erratic. Mostly the folks (volunteers!) are pretty good about turning things around within a few days, but I've had spells where it has taken much longer to get a reply. This can make it hard to get momentum going, as my free periods often don't correspond to those of the nitpickers.

The Official Java Tutorials online are quite good for learning the language. I also like "Core Java" by Horstmann, "Efffective Java" by Bloch (more advanced--took me three tries before it started making sense).
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
 
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