On May, 14 I took the SCJP Exam and passed! I'm really, really glad. It was tough for me. I had my first experiences with Java in 1997, where I had to develop a huge applet, in which a synthetic 3D-face had to be provided with methods to create facial expressions and facial animation. I did a good work, I believe (see "Tinky facial animation" with google if you are interested about it). However, I stopped working with Java in 2000 or 2001 and moved away from programming for a while, until last year in May, when I decided to go back to programming, and back to Java. I first bought the book "Thinking in Java" from Bruce Eckel. A great book, indeed. Starting reading it I realized that I could maybe take some sort of exam, and browsed the Internet searching for some kind of official acknowledgment. I happened to find the official SCJP certification pages on the Sun website and I decided to go for it. What a work! After a 3-months pause last summer, I started working practically full-time in mid October 2009 and worked hard for several months. I had again a 2-months pause between mid-February and mid-April this year and then I decided to fix a date for the exam. I started to seriously take the tests of the excellent book of Sierra and Bates (you know, the SCJP Guide) and literally cried out of pain. They were harder than I thought. Almost every test had a pitfall, in which I regularly fell. But the more I failed, the more determined I was to learn the topics better. Day after day I felt that I was a bit better, and I slowly realized that what I did in 1997-2000 was almost ridiculous with respect to what I learned now. With the deep understanding and knowledge I have acquired now I could have done a tremendously better and much more elegant, robust, and flexible work. What an experience, guys! I feel like the structure of my head has been turned around and changed forever. OK, OK, it's only an exam, but I truly feel I'm back, and I FEEL I'm a good programmer. This thanks to my work, of course, but the book of Sierra & Bates had a great role in my story. For the chronicles: I used almost only the Bates and Sierra book, wrote LOTS of small programs (2 to 300, maybe) to verify the various concepts, I did the LearnKey exams included in the book (2 in the CD and 1 downloaded from the website of LearnKey, according to the instructions found in the book). I occasionally took some mock exams found in the net, even if none of them was as tough as the LearnKey ones. I'm looking forward to go for some Sun's learning path and prepare some other exam, maybe the SCWCD one.
I'm happy to share this