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Q&A

  1. What is it about BASIC that makes it easier to fall into bad habits while writing programs?

  2. One thing you'll learn as you start writing Java programs is that you have to be organized. If you don't structure your program in the correct way, it won't work. BASIC doesn't have this kind of requirement. You can write in a disorganized manner and still get the program to work successfully. Later on, however, you'll have a much harder time figuring out how the program functions when you try to fix a bug or add an improvement.

  3. BASIC? C++? Java? What are the names of these languages supposed to mean?

  4. Like many programming languages, BASIC gets its name from an acronym that describes what it is: Beginner's All Symbolic Instruction Code. C++ is a programming language that was created to be an improvement on the C language, which itself was an improvement of the B programming language. Java goes against the tradition of naming a language with an acronym or other meaningful term. It's just the name that Java's developers liked the best when brainstorming for possible monikers—beating out WebRunner, Silk, and others.

  5. Are there really more than 1,000 books about Java programming?

  6. According to the official JavaWorld count, there are more than 2,400. The online Java magazine, which is available at http://www.javaworld.com, maintains a guide to all upcoming and in-print books related to Java and other Internet technology. This guide is available at http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/books/jw-books-index.html.

  7. Why are interpreted languages slower than compiled ones?

  8. For the same reason that a person interpreting a live speech is a lot slower than a translator interpreting a printed speech. The live interpreter has to think about each statement that's being made as it happens, while the other interpreter can work on the speech as a whole and take some shortcuts to speed up the process. Compiled languages can be much faster than interpreted languages because they can do things to make the program more efficient.

  9. Is C++ harder to learn than Java?

  10. It's a matter of personal opinion, but Java does seem more approachable for beginners than C++. C++ and its predecessor C are widely regarded as "programmer's languages," meaning that they were designed for the needs of experienced programmers. There are a lot of features in C and C++ that make them faster—and more powerful—during program creation, but these features often come at the expense of understandability. Java takes a more simplified approach to programming than C++ and is probably a better place to start.

  11. I am not able to install the SDK from Sun because it's a huge 25 megabyte file. How can I get the SDK?

  12. Sun has offered the SDK on CD for the cost of postage in the past, but that appears to have been discontinued. If you can't download the SDK over the Web, your best bet is probably to acquire a book that contains SDK 1.4 on a CD. There are several, and one of them is Sams Teach Yourself Java 2 in 21 Days Professional Reference Edition, Third Edition. The book is a more expensive hardcover, but it also includes seven bonus chapters on advanced Java topics. For more information, visit the Web site http://www.java21pro.com.

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