The Re-Education of Me (Or: “Hello, World!” – How I Wrote A Java Program)

Privacy, security, networks, information services and technology…they all have one thing in common: People who know what they are doing.

Until recently I really didn’t know what I was doing and, despite a couple of months of reading everything I could get my hands on, I still don’t know much.

Enter the world of adult education and the myriad options available to someone willing to seek out the information that they need to better themselves.

I left high school in my sophomore year nearly 18 years ago.  Not because I wanted to drop out or because I hated school, but because I had just survived a tragedy.  My mother and I were hit by a drunk driver in a horrific collision in which my mother was killed and I was critically injured.  With the physical and emotional recovery that followed I was in no condition to return to school.  So I didn’t.  Sure, I took a few college courses here and there over the next few years, but I never truly applied myself to academia and sought refuge by entering the workforce at 17 as a painter before moving into a career as a 911 Dispatcher at 19.  I’m 33 now and while my career in public safety communications has been wonderful, I still lack a formal education.  The same kind of education that I will be hounding my children to pursue in the coming years.

How do you go back to school when you work the night shift for 60 or 70 hours a week and have a wife and kids to support?  Leaving my job is certainly not a viable option and most of the local schools that have programs geared toward worker retraining all host classes – yeah, you guessed it – at night.

Surely I’m not the first person to face such a challenge?  100% correct – there are thousands, if not millions, of people just like me who want to learn more and develop their professional and personal educations but are stymied by the responsibilities of their current life.  They want to better themselves but are truly unable to find the time to fit it into their schedule.

I’m not gunning for a big graduation ceremony with thousands of my closest friends sitting in a stadium waiting for our names to be mispronounced and handed a diploma that we paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for.  No, I just want the knowledge and the ability to do.  If it comes with a certificate or a degree at an affordable price point, then sure, I’ll probably take that as well.

Prowling the internet late one night I stumbled upon this thread and just started clicking.  Yeah, it’s an old archived forum post but it still has value to me in that the links are still functional and they pointed me in the right direction.  Courtesy of a free, online computer-science class, I have begun to establish the foundation of the knowledge I want.

In fact, just moments ago, I completed my very first computer program.  It’s pretty much the most basic thing one can do with a computer programming language, but getting to the completion point has taught me so much more than I knew prior to beginning the course.  The destination may be the goal, but just as in everyday life, it’s the journey and the decisions you make along the way that teach you the most.

Skills I learned today:

  • What Java is and how computers actually work (the 0s and 1s)
  • Program Files vs Program Files x86 (and why this matters)
  • How to change the directories in the PATH environment variable settings
  • How to verify proper software installation from the Windows Command Prompt
  • How to write a Java program!!!!!!!
  • That source code must be compiled into machine language in order to function

Yeah, that’s pretty much it; but as today comes to a close I know more than I did when it began and that’s the entire point.

/*
  *First Java program to say Hello
  */
 public class Hello {  // Save as "Hello.java" under "C:\Users\21B\MyJavaProject"
        public static void main(String[] args) {
                System.out.println("Hello, world!!");
 }

 

Shameless plug for Saylor Academy where I have learned more about computer programming a single day than I have in the last decade.  I’m truly enjoying the class I’m enrolled in and the price is perfect: 100% free

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