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I Reviewed Head First Java

 
mister krabs
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It's on amazon:


Who do Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates think they are? Don't they know that learning a programming language is supposed to be hard? Don't they know that it is supposed to involve suffering? Apparently not, as they have written a complete introduction to Java that is fun to read and easy to understand. If we don't stamp this out now, students will start expecting their teachers to be entertaining!
The book is an excellent introduction to Java. It covers all the typical topics of a basic introductory text and some extra including serialization, networking, and distributed computing. Each topic is covered in a fun way with important information highlighted. The authors use stories, fake interviews, pictures, and assorted other clever techniques to catch your imagination and make the topics memorable. There are plenty of exercises (with answers) to help you check to be sure you understood each chapter. And there are plenty of fun programs to code including a cool music machine instead of the typical "reverse a String" exercises.
If you are looking for a traditional text then this book is definitely not for you. Instructors should think carefully whether this book fits in with their style of teaching. This book is not for everyone but if you want to learn Java and object oriented programming in fun and unique way then this is the book you want. Now I just have to figure out how to keep it away from my students.

 
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Wow Thomas!
Thanks for that wonderful review. It means a lot coming from you. I respect all the work you do reviewing technical books and it seems to me your broad experience makes you real authority. I agree that Head First books aren't for everybody (although more people like them than I imagined), and I really appreciate the even handed treatment you gave our wacky book.
-Bert
 
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What does it mean 'not for everybody'? Whom you excluded?
 
Bert Bates
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[publisher's note] what DID he mean, not for everybody? [/publisher's note]
OK, actually, Head First books ARE for everybody, YEAH!
Head First books are intended to be for people who want to achieve a solid understanding of a new technology, oh, and have a little fun at the same time.
They are not reference books, and they do not cover every feature of Java. For instance, Head First Java isn't "the only Java book you'll ever need". If you are already a solid Java programmer, you'll also need something like the Java Almanac or Java in a Nutshell. You'll probably also have the Java Cookbook...
Head First books are wacky, tacky and irreverent, you can get free sample downloads from the oreilly site or the wickedlysmart site to see if a Head First book IS for you.
 
Cowgirl and Author
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Originally posted by Bert Bates:
[publisher's note] what DID he mean, not for everybody? [/publisher's note]
OK, actually, Head First books ARE for everybody, YEAH!


I'm just going to have to disagree with my co-author here... Head First books are for *anybody with a credit card*.
OK, just kidding. Thomas is right. Head First books have a very strong style. While the learning theories apply to everyone, our particular implementation does not. For example, the format is geared for a younger audience (although Bert and I are, ahem, a bit older than our target audience...), in both layout (more of an MTV approach than a traditional text book approach), and in tone (not taking ourselves too seriously, a little cynical even while being ridiculously positive).
There are people for whom the visual style is too distracting or frantic. The younger brain is wired differently from the older brain, not because of age, but because of "era". Those raised on Sesame Street and MTV and the ultra-fast cuts of today's movies and even commercials, are able to -- and usually prefer -- a more lively visual style. Older brains raised on visual media which was far more static have not been wired for processing material and might just say, "Whoa! Quick -- close it before my brain explodes!" And that certainly woldn't be a fun experience.
Now, that doesn't mean that it just falls along age lines... some people (regardless of age) just prefer a more visual approach, and are parallel processors -- able to jump back and forth between different representations of the information rather than following a single flow of text.
Also, some people won't like the book simply because they want things to be more *serious*. We're serious about Java, but this approach dictates that the topic be as lively and festive as possible, so some people perceive that this means we're simply not taking the topic seriously enough. We'd argue with that conclusion! But, it's a matter of personal preference.
And Thomas has made a point in other posts that while the book might make a great *recommendation* to students who want to have this to help them grasp some of the concepts in a more accessible way, it isn't something that *any* teacher could use as their required text. Some university and high school teachers do use it as a required text, but only those for whom the style matches the way they teach. And for that, they probably need to be just a little nuts
We think a teacher who wants to be cool should teach from a text book but have a Head First Java book lying around... maybe make some handouts or give out the exercises from it for fun breaks that reinforce the concepts
And of course if it's Thomas, he can have the EJB book casually lying open to page 451...
cheers,
Kathy
p.s. thanks Thomas!!
 
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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We think a teacher who wants to be cool should teach from a text book but have a Head First Java book lying around... maybe make some handouts or give out the exercises from it for fun breaks that reinforce the concepts
That is an excellent idea. What I have been doing is bringing the book to class and letting my students take a look at it to see if they would like it. But I think I'll start giving out some of the assignments from the book.
And of course if it's Thomas, he can have the EJB book casually lying open to page 451...
OK, do I have to ask my O'Reilly friend to send me a copy of that book too?!
 
tumbleweed
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Whow the Thomas stamp of approval.
 
Kathy Sierra
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Originally posted by Johannes de Jong:
Whow the Thomas stamp of approval.


I know... and what's even more amazing is that we didn't have to pay him as much as I'd anticipated
Or maybe it was those compromising photos we had of him...
Regardless, we're thrilled!
cheers,
Kathy
 
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Originally posted by Kathy Sierra:

I know... and what's even more amazing is that we didn't have to pay him as much as I'd anticipated
Or maybe it was those compromising photos we had of him...
Regardless, we're thrilled!
cheers,
Kathy


Oh, so that's how he got the name Captain Sparrow?
And you have photos you say?
 
Sheriff
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Compromising photos? Who says Thomas isn't entertaining?!
 
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