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General Comments for newcomers

 
Author & Gold Digger
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Hi fella ranchers,
The following comments aim at making your study easier and more effective.
I love answering your questions and what follows should in no way discourage you to post your questions.


1. USE THE SEARCH ENGINE
There is a search engine at JavaRanch and it is there for you guys to use it. How many times have we come across closely related questions in two days interval? Too often. A good example, is the ever-coming-back question about String literals and String objects and how they are garbage collected. That question is asked, like, almost everyday. You are just wasting your time and the time of the guys who respond since the answer is out there. Lazyness is no excuse


2. TRY YOUR CODE
The key to your success towards being certified is lots of practice. PRACTICE! In my opinion, one cannot pretend being an SCJP without having even written one line of code. If your goal is just to gain some Java knowledge to augment your cultural package then ok. But if you aim at being a programmer one day, you have to code. Experience is the key. How many times have we seen questions like this one:
In that mock exam there was the following code:

My question is:"What does the code do?"
COME ON! How dare you? When you come across some code you don't understand at the first sight, copy-paste it inside your favorite editor, compile it and run it. Try to decorticate it. Try to understand the tiniest detail of it. By doing so, you'll quickly gain a lot of understanding of how Java works.
Again, lazyness is no excuse!


3. CONSULT THE API
For those who don't know where to get the API, here it is: http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.3/docs/api/index.html
How many times have we seen questions like:
"What does the method abs() in the class Math do?"
or
"Is Runnable an interface or a class?"
For those who don't know it yet, an API is a sort of resume of what the libraries can do. USE THEM! There is no way you can program in Java if you don't use them. The exam asks a lot of questions related to the API. You have to know what argument a constructor can take or what type a method returns. At the beginning you'll have to look at it lots of times, but with the time, you'll notice that you begin to know some part of the API by heart and THIS IS GOOD. Writing Java applications without looking at the API is like writing a text in a language you don't know and you have to look every word of the text in a dictionary. Not very efficient, it'll take a looooooong time, and time is money (your manager knows that ). To me, not looking at the API is clearly a sign of lazyness .


4. CONSULT THE JLS
Very important point. The Java Language Specification is to Java what the Bible is to the Christians and the Coran to the Muslims (sorry for the other religions ). The JLS defines what Java is and every tiny details about the language. You can find everything in there, except some special topics like garbage collection. The answer to a question like "Can a final method be overridden?" can be found in the JLS in like two seconds. The link to that important document is: http://java.sun.com/docs/books/jls/second_edition/html/jTOC.doc.html
My advice is to read it in its entirety, but if you don't feel like it or don't have the time, ok then. It's not a requirement, just an advice. You'd be amazed what you can find in there. I must admit that some parts are very cryptic, that's why I only recommend the reading.


5. READ THE QUESTIONS CAREFULLY
Pay attention to the wording of the question. Lots of the questions are playing with the words. You must read and understand each word of the question. There has often been the case where questions were misinterpreted and pointed out as being wrongly answered just because the question has not been read properly. BUT there are also mock exams authors who don't care about wording and the only thing the mocks does is to confuse you more than it helps. You should drop those mocks as soon as you notice that the wording is just a joke.


6. FORMAT YOUR CODE
This is sort of important if you want the people to get a precise idea of what your code is doing. Just put the code inside tags. Otherwise the code is lined up to the left and it is not easy to see the code structure.

Ok I think I'm done for the time being, take those advices for what they are worth to you.
Happy mocking !

------------------
Valentin Crettaz
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform
 
"The Hood"
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OK - So I am going to take the liberty of cross-posting this to Beginner .
 
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Valentin,
This post should be made into a separate page with a link at the top of the forum such as "Read Before Posting". I totally understand your concern with answering the same questions over and over, but then again many of them who post them are new, and don't know any better (and some are lazy ). It is up to the administrators to make this information/guidelines easily/prominently available to new users. Probably, a more complete FAQ couldn't hurt either.
 
Valentin Crettaz
Author & Gold Digger
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You know what Jim? You are perfectly right...
As a matter of fact, we are already discussing this topic in the Moderator forum and trying to figure out a solution to put the FAQ somewhere it can't be missed.
Personally I don't care if people ask 1000 times the same question over and over, it's just that the forum should be used in a way that allows anyone to get the best out of it and not crowd it with repetitive questions... It's a waste of time and brain cells.
Don't worry , we're working on it...
------------------
Valentin Crettaz
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform
 
Jim Hall
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Many of the bulletin boards have the option of placing an announcement post (which is always the first post and read only).
Here's an idea:
Before posting to a particular forum, the database could check a flag to see if the poster has read the "Read Before Posting" post of that forum. If not, they are directed to the post, where they can submit that they have read it (or just skipped to the end) which sets the flag to true. Now they'll be able to post. Should the "Read Before Posting" post change significantly, just reset the flag to false. This would be only a small inconvenience to the user, when they tried to post for the first time. And quite simple to implement.
 
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"Read Before Posting" post of that forum
Kinda like a Software Agreement. < I AGREE >
Come on, plese how many times did you read that!
- satya
ps: Don't mean to shoot down a good idea, but debating
on how many people will pay attention.
 
Madhav Lakkapragada
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Good Call, Valentin.
- satya
 
Jim Hall
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True. I don't think I have ever read one. But this is a bit different. For one, the agreement is a bunch of legal notices. Two, the software agreement doesn't talk back. If I don't follow the rules the vendor is not going to publicly let me know about it, as in a forum.
At least you would let people know that you have an FAQ and some general guidelines to follow. Of course, it wouldn't be 100% effective but it might help somewhat. I think most forum users understand it is considered good netiquette to read the FAQ and policies before posting. I know I have always done so. If not you run the risk of being flamed. But the people here at JR are too nice for that.

[This message has been edited by Jim Hall (edited December 21, 2001).]
 
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Reviving this thread for newcomers...
Please take note of #2.
If you are trying to get a professional certification, at least make some effort to do some work yourself.
Many of the old hands around here will be more than happy to help out those who are struggling with a concept that they've obviously tried to work out for themselves. However, I tend to ignore those who want to be spoon-fed and I'm sure others feel the same way.
 
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Valentin Crettaz, good suggestion!
I wil try to do that before asking questions.
hehehe.
 
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Also don't forget the Programmer Certification FAQ http://www.javaranch.com/certfaq.jsp the link for this is at the top of the page!
 
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work - Edison. Tiny ad:
Java file APIs (DOC, XLS, PDF, and many more)
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