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Head First Java, 2nd Edition [Paperback]

Kathy Sierra , Bert Bates
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (393 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 9, 2005 0596009208 978-0596009205 2nd

Learning a complex new language is no easy task especially when it s an object-oriented computer programming language like Java. You might think the problem is your brain. It seems to have a mind of its own, a mind that doesn't always want to take in the dry, technical stuff you're forced to study.

The fact is your brain craves novelty. It's constantly searching, scanning, waiting for something unusual to happen. After all, that's the way it was built to help you stay alive. It takes all the routine, ordinary, dull stuff and filters it to the background so it won't interfere with your brain's real work--recording things that matter. How does your brain know what matters? It's like the creators of the Head First approach say, suppose you're out for a hike and a tiger jumps in front of you, what happens in your brain? Neurons fire. Emotions crank up. Chemicals surge. That's how your brain knows.

And that's how your brain will learn Java. Head First Java combines puzzles, strong visuals, mysteries, and soul-searching interviews with famous Java objects to engage you in many different ways. It's fast, it's fun, and it's effective. And, despite its playful appearance, Head First Java is serious stuff: a complete introduction to object-oriented programming and Java. You'll learn everything from the fundamentals to advanced topics, including threads, network sockets, and distributed programming with RMI. And the new. second edition focuses on Java 5.0, the latest version of the Java language and development platform. Because Java 5.0 is a major update to the platform, with deep, code-level changes, even more careful study and implementation is required. So learning the Head First way is more important than ever.

If you've read a Head First book, you know what to expect--a visually rich format designed for the way your brain works. If you haven't, you're in for a treat. You'll see why people say it's unlike any other Java book you've ever read.

By exploiting how your brain works, Head First Java compresses the time it takes to learn and retain--complex information. Its unique approach not only shows you what you need to know about Java syntax, it teaches you to think like a Java programmer. If you want to be bored, buy some other book. But if you want to understand Java, this book's for you.

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Head First Java, 2nd Edition + Head First Design Patterns + Effective Java (2nd Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"It's fast, irreverent, fun and engaging. Be careful--you might actually learn something!" - Ken Arnold, coauthor (with James Gosling, creator of Java) The Java Programming Language "It's definitely time to dive in--Head First."

- Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems, Chairman, President, and CEO

About the Author

Kathy Sierra has been interested in learning theory since her days as a game developer (Virgin, MGM, Amblin'). More recently, she's been a master trainer for Sun Microsystems, teaching Sun's Java instructors how to teach the latest technologies to customers, and a lead developer of several Sun certification exams. Along with her partner Bert Bates, Kathy created the Head First series. She's also the original founder of the Software Development/Jolt Productivity Award-winning, the largest (and friendliest) all-volunteer Java community.

Bert Bates is a 20-year software developer, a Java instructor, and a co-developer of Sun's upcoming EJB exam (Sun Certified Business Component Developer). His background features a long stint in artificial intelligence, with clients like the Weather Channel, A&E Network, Rockwell, and Timken.

Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2nd edition (February 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596009208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596009205
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 8 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (393 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fast-track way to learn Java October 6, 2005
I've been a professional programmer for years and I had to learn Java fast to stay in my current engagement. The "Learn-Java-In-24-Hours" style books had appealing titles but instead I decided to try this weird, truly different approach to learning because O'Reilly published it. (I have been familiar with O'Reilly for years and always recognized them as a top-flight publisher, although their books often had a formal, college-textbookish tone that made them better reference books than read-thru books.) I was put off by the graphics-intensive comic book style when I paged through the sample on-line at Amazon but decided to give it a try.

I think they're really on to something here. I can only speak for myself, as someone who already has a background in programming, but I believe the book actually works. Over a couple weeks I read the book, did the little puzzles and exercises which the authors were so insistent that I do, and was really surprised at the depth of knowledge I came out with at the other end.

Sitting in a developer's meeting yesterday I was really surprised that, while I clearly didn't have the years of experience the other coders had, I had no problem keeping up and was even able to contribute. I'm now moving in to the new assignment fairly well and am confident that I'll be able to pick up the details of this language now that I've got such a good grounding from this book.

I've now ordered the companion O'Reilly volumes on Enterprise JavaBeans and Design Patterns and am curious to see if they can maintain the same level of quality. Those skills would really seem to set a programmer apart, a critical consideration in a world where the competition is getting better (and unfortunately cheaper) every day.
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275 of 323 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars To much funny, not enough fact March 25, 2006
By Publius
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book. I bought the Head First book on design patterns and love it. It was the right mix of irreverance and information. So, I bought this book even though I have been a Java developer for over 5 years. I was excited to see how the Head First authors handled a beginners book for Java.

Not too well, in my opinion. Chapter Three, in particular, was a mess. This chapter introduces the notion of variables yet never explains what an integer variable is. No explanation is given of the float type. We are told that a byte holds 8 bits...but not told what a bit is. We are not told how to assign a hexadecimal value to an int. We are not told that if we assign a numeric value with a leading zero...the compiler will assume that you meant to use octal values. The reader is not told that Strings are immutable. These are all things that will trip up a beginner (the target market for this book). The author of this chapter doesn't even bother to mention that a Java array uses a zero-based index.

Both primitives and the notion of classes are introduced in Chapter Three. Yet, the author doesn't mention that all primitives (except boolean) have wrapper classes. Strings are introduced...but, no mention is made of the StringBuffer or StringBuilder (very useful and often used classes). These items are included in the back of the book in Appendix B.

There are so many things left out that I wonder if the publisher actually had any beginners read this book. Readers of this book will finish this book still ignorant of many Java essentials.

Here is one of their dumbed-down explanations for an object reference:

"Think of a Dog reference variable as a Dog remote control. You use it to get the object to do something (invoke methods).
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively deep discussions February 15, 2011
I started learning Java a few years ago, having had previous experience with C++, PL/SQL, ActionScript (Flash) and even assembly language. For some reason, even with books by Paul and Harvey Deitel, I found that I was not sure of what I was doing in Java. I could read the code and tell what a program was doing, but was having a hard time creating the new objects, interfaces and methods I needed for my project.

My wife bought this book for me and I didn't have the heart to tell her that a "silly" book on Java would not help me get where I wanted to go. How wrong I was!

The authors make it seem like they are very casual, even irreverent, about the subject. However, they actual do imbed the concepts into your mind with silly poems (roses are read, this poem is choppy, java is always pass by copy - or something similar) and crazy "debates" between objects and concepts. The light finally came on about what objects living on the heap was all about and that declaring an object variable is really declaring a reference to an object. Wow! so that's why you need an object.equals(object) method instead of just using object==object. The other books pointed that out, this book MADE the point in the brain.

I could provide lots more examples of how apparently silly games make the concepts live in your brain instead of just on the paper, but you really should experience it for yourself. I fully intend to investigate the other Head First books that are relevant to my work.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
By Larry
I like writing reviews on technical books because I think they are of enormous value to those considering buying the book. I buy a lot of books online and the reviews that I read are by far the most important thing that influences my decision to buy. Or not.

I also like to read what others before me have written. In this case - and for all of the "Head First" books I have read - I heartily agree with what virtually all others have written: these books are a great way to learn complicated, and oftentimes boring, subject material.

So I won't rehash what others have already written, except to say that if what you read was good - believe it.

I think the most important thing I can say about this book is that I agree with what Hye Nyoun Eum Kim wrote: NOT for beginners. I remember thinking to myself throughout the book that a fair, or at least some, amount of Java knowledge would be necessary in order to understand what the authors were covering.

If you already know Java and want to know it better, buy this book. If you are new to Java, and especially if you are new to programming, I still recommend buying this book. But do yourself a favor - check out other introductory Java books and buy one of those as well. A good starting point? I have bought the "Just Java" (by Peter van der Linden) books ever since Java 1.0 came out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Kindle version sucks.
WARNING: Kindle version is seriously flawed. All code examples are images with annotations "handwritten" on them. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Anatoli Melechko
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect for a Java newbie!
Published 2 days ago by Beth Stubblefield
4.0 out of 5 stars Needs Better Examples
I've had a lot of "Ohhhh" moments with this book, i.e. it does a fairly good job of making Java make sense. Read more
Published 20 days ago by sayock
5.0 out of 5 stars They really know how to get it into your head
I am teaching myself Java and this book finally made it all come together. I have actually built my first application! I highly reccommend this book for beginners.
Published 25 days ago by Patti Neuman
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Engaging Java Book Ever!
I highly recommend this book. I've purchased many other java books, but have never felt as if I was truly getting it. That all changed with Head First Java! Read more
Published 1 month ago by James R. Dorsey Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book for beggining java
This is by far the best text book I have ever read. The book was engaging, well written, and intuitive. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JN
2.0 out of 5 stars A good primer, but not without serious flaws
The O'Reilly 'Head First' series is, in general, a fun way to start on a programming language. There are still concepts that stick in my memory solely because of the structure of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. Schaffer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff
Please keep in mind that this concentrates on Java 5.0 as does the current Java in a Nutshell by David Flanaghan. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dork Maroney
5.0 out of 5 stars Good and interesting
I am learning Java. I have gone through the first few chapters. The authors vary the presentation. It is clear and interesting. I enjoy reading it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JC
5.0 out of 5 stars Good condition.
Good condition. !!
Published 2 months ago by wenDEE
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What's next in learning Java?
Write a few programs :)

Then read Effective Java. Do not read it first, though - you will definitely do things differently in your programs than he does, then when you read it go, "Oh wow, that's really clever, I didn't even think of that." Without that experience, you will not get... Read More
Jan 20, 2011 by BlueRaja |  See all 2 posts
Welcome to the Head First Java forum
what's the difference between Head first Java and Head first Javascript?
May 1, 2010 by Asya G. Melkonyan |  See all 3 posts
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