This week's book giveaway is in the OO, Patterns, UML and Refactoring forum. We're giving away four copies of Refactoring for Software Design Smells: Managing Technical Debt and have Girish Suryanarayana, Ganesh Samarthyam & Tushar Sharma on-line! See this thread for details.
Or if your company is not upgrading yet for some reason, then you could use the char versionwhich does exist in Java 1.3. Note that you can only replace one char by another with this method, nothing more complex than that.