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Head First Java - puzzle survey

Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8883
    
    5
Howdy!
We are wondering if any of you HFJ readers would care to comment about the puzzles and exercises in HFJ? We're interested in knowing which ones you liked, which ones you didn't like, which ones were hard or easy, how they could be improved, if they helped you learn, (and how), and any other ideas or recommendations!
As we are wrapping up Head First EJBs and embarking on other Java related Head First titles your feedback will help us improve these books! (Plus, we often mention helpful, sharp-eyed readers in our books, so this is your opportunity for 15 minutes of geek fame )
Thanks!
Bert and Kathy


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Dawn Tal
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 15, 2003
Posts: 5
I've had the book less than 24 hours and planned to read it in my spare time. I'm not a programmer so I thought I'd download the software someday and give it a try. NEXT THING I KNOW, I've blown through a couple of chapters and completely lost 2 hours because I was so engrossed in the puzzles and quizes. I love learning this way. I kept thinking to myself "if college had been organized this way I'd have gotten a PhD".
I really like the "Be the compiler" exercises - 'cause I like Zen stuff and I tend to learn a lot by making every error possible before getting the logic (I see almost everything as a process or shape - it's really hard for me to follow static/line item logic.....this is embarrassing but there you have it. Be the compiler helps me focus on syntax). I also liked the "Code Magnets" puzzles because they focus on the core logic without making me stop and write it all out. I grasp concepts faster than the debugging detail - so the pre-written code keeps me learning at a faster pace than if I'd have to stop and write the code myself (where I would without a doubt make a syntax error and stop learning for an hour until I fixed it). I am not a crossword fan normally, but I was so into the topic that I even did the crossword.
You guys have really done something GREAT. I hope this feedback helps a bit. Write more books and I'll end up with a software company!
(You'll see another posting where I'm having a few installation issues with java but that has nothing to do with the book (It's my normal detail problem)).
Greg Neef
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 82
looking back over the last few chapters I completed (working in 9 now) the pool puzzel in 8 was tough, what's the picture was trivial, Who am I was tough. The Crosswords consistantly give me trouble.
Pool puzzel in 10 was tough too but I thought very useful.
[ August 26, 2003: Message edited by: Greg Neef ]

SCJP 1.4
Michael Dunn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 09, 2003
Posts: 4632
I do like the book, I'm about half way through, and the style of the book has helped me understand a few things better. I'm looking forward to reading the remaining chapters.
As for the puzzles, I'm not a big fan. I mostly read in bed (bookmarking where I'm up to (a)code to be tried on the PC (b)reading).
"Be the compiler" is good, but the crosswords, pool etc are a bit much (brain is a bit low on RAM) unless I want to write in the book (which I don't), so I find I mostly skip over them.
I understand the puzzles are part of the style of the book, however, I do prefer exercises eg write a program to convert celsius to fahrenheit (K & R 2) or building an application throughout the book (Liberty's "From Scratch" series).
Congratulations, HFJ is a good book, and, depending on the subject matter, I definitely would buy other books in any "Head First" series.
Doyle P. Haugen
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 22, 2003
Posts: 7
Bert,
I'm not a programmer, but I aspire to be one.
I checked the book out at the local library, and it has become a must-buy (so much so that I'm ordering it this week). I'm on chapter 4, now.
As to the exercises and puzzles, I find them to be quite challenging. I was able to complete them for the first chapter. The ones in the second chapter were a bit beyond me at this stage, so I plan to read the book through and then re-read, doing the exercises and puzzles then.
By the way, is it okay to photocopy the "Code Magnets" exercises so I can cut individual "magnets" out and rearrange them?
And, if I may digress from the topic just a bit, is there any reason applets aren't given much attention in the book?
[ August 24, 2003: Message edited by: Doyle Haugen ]
Tom Hill
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 24, 2003
Posts: 115
I have just completed my First year studying Computer Science at University (In the UK), where Java has been an integral/important part of my course. Ive been on Summer holiday for a few months now and knew that I'll be going rusty so I had better start revising/refreshing for the next year ASAP!
And thats when I found HFJ - and it beats the 'usual' textbook that i was going to read hands-down! It is managing to keep me enthused even though ive had lectures weekly for the last 6months on topics I thought I knew!
I'm about 1/2 way though now, I love the "Sharpen your pencil" activities that work as great quick breakpoint to revise what has just been said in the book, so you know you arent going too quickly. "BE the compiler/JVM" are great exercises as well. "Code Magnets" certainly get the brain buzzing. I disliked the "Pool Puzzle" but probably because I never devote enough time to them. I think that maybe they would be better if they were a little shorter, and perhaps mixed with "mixed messages". "Who am I" is another example of a recap exercise. Although they might be better as shorter and more frequent exercises.
I like the way JHF rarely (if at all) asks the reader to: "Have a go at writing a peice of code that does...." Its a very big switch off! I do feel the book skimmed over naming conventions for Java, which we spent weeks on at Uni - perhaps a short Appendix would have covered that. I hate nothing more than having to read the same structure for: for,while,dowhile,if,else statements in every text book i read in multiple Programming languages. So Im very very glad JHF didnt spend too long on them!
I also think the code examples are very fun and unusual. Most text books would never dare to do a phrase-o-matic as a first application! Nothing is more tedious that a "HELLO WORLD" application!
Ive only read 1/2 the book but its been an absolute pleasure to read! Im sure that as soon as Ive finished it Ill be saying: "I WANT MORE!"
Thank you!
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8883
    
    5
Thank you all for your great feedback!
We want more too! (feedback that is )
And we're working on more... three new Head First books are in various stages of construction!
Anymore thoughts on puzzles and exercises?
Anybody like or dislike the crosswords? How about the 5-minute mysteries? Others?
Thanks!
-Bert
Amy Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 02, 2003
Posts: 280
This is the first of my books I have written in and its great! I love the Code Magnets and Be The Compiler but the Pool Puzzles are tough. I'm not much good at the 5 minute mysteries either but its great fun trying them out and it probably the first book I have ever owned/read where I actually try out all the excersizes and code - actually this is my current problem, it is taking me so long to get through as I spend hours working through the puzzles but it is all great fun!
I can't wait for more HF books (I don't think it even matters if the topic is relevant) they are just great fun. Thanks Kathy and Bert
oh and btw I have noticed one or two little typos...
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
HFJ is sitting on the floor right now, a pencil and a big eraser right next to it. Doing the exercises is fun. The crossword started out tough, then I think I starting thinking goofy enough to get a few more.
I absolutely love the almost sublimal message on the very first exercise (a Sharpen Your Pencil). Just as I was about to continue reading lazily I caught sight of the line at the bottom of the page: "Don't just sit there." I let out a laugh, yelled out "Hey! Look at this!" for the 100th time, then grabbed my pencil and started playing.
Mark Tosiello
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Posts: 1
I am enjoying HFJ very much, and do certianly appreciate the writing style. I'm an SQL programmer mostly, but am very interested in learning the Java language. I enjoy the "Be the Compiler" exercises, and the Code Magnet examples. I'm not a crossword person, so I don't really enjoy those, and I find that the Pool exercises are, at least to me, very time consuming and at some times quite difficult. This in no way detracts from my "review" of the book..it's wonderful, it's just that some methods of instruction work with some and some with others. I'm very satisfied with the Sharpen Your Pencils and Barbells, and I'm enjoying the style of the book very much. 5 Stars!
Mark
Elton Hughes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 19, 2003
Posts: 72
Hi Bert,
I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and I throughly enjoyed it. Like most people, I really enjoyed Be the Compiler and the Code Magnets. I also enjoyed the Five-Minute Mysteries. And nothing was wrong with the good old fashioned True or False exercises. But I skipped most of the Pool Puzzle and Crossword puzzles. Just not my cup of tea.
Good luck with your new books!
Elton
p.s. Hi Kathy!
Doyle P. Haugen
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 22, 2003
Posts: 7
My very own copy of HFJ is en route to me now! Yippee!
Now I'll have to go through and erase everything I wrote in the library's copy.
frank davis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Still going through the book, but HATED crossword puzzles. Can't see any possible connection between understanding programming concepts and doing linguistic letter games. Two separate intelligences and modes of being/operating. Only a marginal benefit in helping you remember terminology.
nick wall
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 27, 2003
Posts: 5
I am on chapter 5 and enjoying the book immensely. I am a bit lazy on the Pool Puzzles. The way it is written, pictures, different fonts, text in all different places, make it a great learning experience. I bought O'Reilly "Java in a Nutshell" months ago, got to page 73. At least I have the reference book now!
I don't feel so stupid asking this, since you have "Dumb Questions" in the book...How do I view the source code in the "codeKitchens.jar". Don't want to type the GameHelper class in chapter 5.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn java and I would definitely buy any more books in this series. Great job.
Stephen Huey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 15, 2003
Posts: 618
Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Can't see any possible connection between understanding programming concepts and doing linguistic letter games. Two separate intelligences and modes of being/operating. Only a marginal benefit in helping you remember terminology.

Bringing together multiple areas of intelligence increases the connections in your brain and so strengthens your grasp of the concepts. Perhaps many more people would be good programmers and code architects if they were able to approach the material in a way more suited to them (rather than the way that stereotypically good programmers and programming books of the past few decades have approached the material). Just because some kinds of people are good at programming doesn't mean other kinds of people can't be as well--in fact, we might see enhanced creativity (or at least extra realms of creativity) if we can bring in other kinds of thinkers. I'll take a shot in the dark and say that logical/mathematical types (according to Gardner) may be the ones who typically characterize the average programmer. However, say you have a linguistic or musical person whose mind isn't into studying programming via more traditional curricula, but would be really good at manipulating highly abstract design patterns if only they got involved to that point.
I'm blabbing on...my point is that for them there might be a reason for learning in a way that seems useless to you!
frank davis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Stephen Huey:

Bringing together multiple areas of intelligence increases the connections in your brain and so strengthens your grasp of the concepts. Perhaps many more people would be good programmers and code architects if they were able to approach the material in a way more suited to them (rather than the way that stereotypically good programmers and programming books of the past few decades have approached the material). Just because some kinds of people are good at programming doesn't mean other kinds of people can't be as well--in fact, we might see enhanced creativity (or at least extra realms of creativity) if we can bring in other kinds of thinkers. I'll take a shot in the dark and say that logical/mathematical types (according to Gardner) may be the ones who typically characterize the average programmer. However, say you have a linguistic or musical person whose mind isn't into studying programming via more traditional curricula, but would be really good at manipulating highly abstract design patterns if only they got involved to that point.
I'm blabbing on...my point is that for them there might be a reason for learning in a way that seems useless to you!

I understand the theoretical point on learning theory but in this case do you Really believe doing a crossword puzzle will help you understand how inheritence, polymorphism, variable initialization, or anything else programming related, will work? The realm of letter sequences and programming concepts are too far apart to support each other.
Tom Hill
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 24, 2003
Posts: 115
Ive pretty much finished the book now!
The Cross words are kinda annoying - Very similar to the "Who am I" exercises. The 5 Minute Mysteries were along the right lines but i found them difficult to follow. I think that the text just needs to be simplified. I answered the last one, about the Airlock, only reading the paragraph before and the one after the code section.
I did notice that the PREPCODE/TESTCODE/APPCODE notation at the top of the page had disappeared about 1/2 way though the book. It would have been nice to see a few more of them - but obviously the book can only be so big . The last chapter highlighting RMI was a whole new topic for me, I will no doubt reading it again and again when Ill probably be looking at it next year.
Ill never forget the image in my Operating Systems text book highlighting a Thread using 2 diagrams. 1)A single threaded program (A picture of an application's window with a squiggle in it). 2)A multi-threaded program (A picture of an application's window with 3 squiggles in it). One day standard text books will learn....
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
So far, I like code magnets, be the compiler, and who am I, all about the same. I find the crosswords can be elusive at times - they're ok while I have a clue, then I move on.
The pool puzzles aren't my kind of thing, I'm not into figuring things out like that, feels like I'm going backwards without rear view mirrors. At first filling in the blanks seems straight forward (OK, say easy) it feels fun enough; but then getting the loops right for me boils down to throwing in a couple possibilities and going through the iterations (on paper, not testing in a real program) - that gets real tedious real fast. Others' brains might see the necessary patterns more quickly, without having to plug in the loop conditions and go through it repeatedly, but mine doesn't and gets tired and bored fast. I'd just tend to skip them later.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8883
    
    5
Thank you all for taking the time to give us your valuable feedback!
We got a lot of good information, and we made some adjustments to HF EJB based on your responses.
This process isn't over for us, (there are several more HF books in the works), so don't hesitate to give us more input!
Bert and Kathy
judy ri
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 05, 2003
Posts: 11
Hey everyone,
Was just looking for java books over the weekend, and they are all the same. how boring and not enough info for newbies.
came across this on the net just a few minutes ago, and was gonna take a look at it.
thanks for all the recommendations!!!
btw...i have no idea..what this means in java "
also..how come string literals have no bit sizes?
everything else does..lol
java is hard for me.
not doing well..and trying to find info like crazy..
thank you for having javaranch
judy :roll:
Michael Hall
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 17, 2005
Posts: 21
Three years late, but here it is. I LOVE THIS BOOK!
As for the exercises, Who Am I? is good and simple enuff not to turn me off before I get going. Be the compiler is a little harder but still simple enuff to entice me even while lying down. The code magnets take a little more thought but after getting through the others I'm willing. The first time thru the book I didn't complete most of the pool puzzles after the first few chapters because I was so into the book that I didn't want to spend the time or effort to do them cause I wanted to get on to the next chapter. I knew I would have to come back and do them the 2nd time thru anyway. Even the 2nd time thru they were tough. But after I stared at the page long enuff it finally started to click and when it did - WOW - AWSOME! I probably still havn't gotten one 100% right but getting closer. The crosswards are impossible without going back thru the chapter and seeing what you might have in mind because there aren't enuff intersections between words and I havn't accumulated that much enthusiasm yet I guess. I go thru and try to do what I can and then I cheat and look up the ones I can't get but it is still a good exercise to do first because it helps famaliarize you with the jargon.
Can't wait to get to HFO - Thanks
Steve Stanicki
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 24, 2005
Posts: 23
Love the Book. I am finishing up chapter 14. OOP is much much more clear to me now. I found that using the book and comparing notes with a colleague (we are both procedural mainframe types) learning Java at community college, I am better at the concepts and she is way better with syntax (IMHO).

As for the puzzles, I never did the "pools" or mysteries, but I work out both "Be The Compiler" and magnets. I like the crosswords also.

Steve
Max Grossenbacher
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 13, 2013
Posts: 5
I like all the activities except the puzzles, the discourage me to continue, I never manage to get them without looking at the solution, basically telling me I am not getting it and reading this book is not working out for me. Personally I'd say remove the pool puzzles completely and find something else to replace them with.
Michael Kinberger
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 30, 2013
Posts: 8
I just started the book this week, I am still in chapter one and I absolutely love the book.

Can anyone tell me the answers for JavaCross 7.0? lol
I like to be thorough and memorize what I can.
Michael Kinberger
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 30, 2013
Posts: 8
Nevermind.
Mike Rodgers
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 12, 2014
Posts: 7
I'm stuck in chapter 4 and 5. I fear the book is way above what I should start with. I could only recommend it to someone with a heavy background in programming in other languages.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 40034
    
  28
Welcome to the Ranch

I suggest you try going back to chapters 1 2 and 3 before giving up on HFJ.
Mike Rodgers
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 12, 2014
Posts: 7
I'll take the book with me to work and go through 2-3 with a pencil/pen and try again.
Mike Rodgers
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 12, 2014
Posts: 7
After going back to the beginning I can only think of one adequate comment for the pool puzzles. That there is not enough profanity created yet to describe them.
nuff said.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 40034
    
  28
Mike Rodgers wrote: . . . there is not enough profanity created yet to describe them. . . .
Mike Rodgers
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 12, 2014
Posts: 7
I'm still plugging away at it but it makes me remember the language of my Navy days.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
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