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Learning opportunity: C/C++/Unix vs. J2EE

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I was asked a question today: given the opportunity, what you you learn today - a nice classic package of C/C++/Unix or J2EE.
This question was asked by a guy with 8 years of programming experience in different fields who recently lost his job. So, this question is not which language/platform is gonna come on top, but rather from emploument standpoint: who would gain more(progessionally, financially) in a longshot - a Java or a C++ programmer.
I couldn't give a firm answer. Hopefully, you will.
Thank in advance,
--Alex Ayzin
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If someone is going to pay you to do OJT on one or the other, then I'd pick Java.
However, there are millions of lines of C (not C++) code in the world that need constant maintenance - it is a definite skill that can be used to keep money coming in while you wait for something better .......
My experiences with "C/C++" would indicate that many organizations claim to do it. However the reality is that C is much more prevelant than C++ - lots of folks 'talk the talk' with C++, but do not "walk the walk" (LOL - but be prepared to discuss destructors and operator overloading in an interview .....).
Regards, Guy

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I would look at this dilemna from the maintenance versus development perspective.
While there are no guarantees - I would say maintenence is a lot more stable of a position that development. In this regards, I would say C/C++ positions would be more maintenence oriented than Java/J2EE positions which seem to be more project oriented.
If I had a wife/kids and was tied down - I would be more inclined to go with C/C++. On the other hand, since I am single and willing to travel/go anywhere - I do the J2EE thing.
With risk (ie: development) comes better compensation. Yet, who knows where/when the next project will be.
Let me give you an example of my career so far:
- On the maintenance side - I worked with Cobol/IBM JCL - and had a steady job for 2 years. The $$ was relatively low compared to what I get and have been offered in the development arena.
- On the development side - I have been working with J2EE for the past year. The $$ is relatively higher that what the Cobol gig paid. But, I first started out in Pennsylvania, then moved to Colorado, and today still live in Colorado but an sitting in my office here in New Jersey typing this in. All within the past year.
In addition, I spend about 1 to 2 hours a day outside of work - hitting up the books.
Another consideration. If your friend an get a US Security clearance - meaning, is not H1B - and wants a somewhat stable environment. I would investigate the defense contractor market. A good deal of their work is in C/C++ - but you cannot be an H1B, and you will need a security clearance.
These gigs pay well to start - but not sure how far the pay scale goes up. Also not sure about the transferrability of job skills.
John Coxey
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Until I start getting paid to code Java 100% of the time that will always be my answer.
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
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