Understanding Java: What have I let myself in for?

You know the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks”? Well, I hope it’s not true because in a fit of madness I’ve decided to try and learn programming language Java.

The only dummy in this whole process is me. I knew I should have paid more attention to maths in school.

Dummies: Aspirations of Android app development has meant a lot of reading.

Why? Because my teenage son thinks it’s a good idea to have a crack at Android app development. I sort of agree with him but I don’t think he realises how long the process will take from go to woah. A while, me thinks.

My lovely daughter – who we drove to Dunedin a couple of weekends ago to pick up and bring back to Christchurch – stopped into the University bookshop to try to exchange some books and while there I found a book on Android app development that I contemplated buying – Android App Development for Dummies – but didn’t (too tight to spend the money, if I’m honest). Daughter, though, had other ideas: She had a store credit from an earlier visit so bought the book for me as a way of payment for “all the money I had spent on her in the past”. The gesture was much appreciated (although, I’ve spent a helluva lot more than $40 on her over the years).

Later that night, after we got home, I sad down with a beverage and read through the opening pages of the book and it recommended knowledge of Java, which was something I didn’t have, before tackling the book. Cursing, I went to bed to watch season one of Chuck and today, I went to the local library and found a book called Java All-in-One for Dummies (there’s a theme emerging here) that promised to demystify Java.

Well, after the first few chapters of the Java book, I’m still none the wiser … so I gave up with the Java book and cracked straight into the Android App Development for Dummies. I might be a mistake but I made my first project last night, which displayed the words “Hello World” on a screen made up to look like an Android phone’s display.

It was actually fun in a hard work kind of waybut it’s slow progress and the code is almost a foreign language at the moment: I’m having to type things like this (which is supposed to add a button to the Android view:


android: id=”@/toggleButton”




android:text=”Toggle Silent Mode”


See what I mean? Foreign language. It’s harder to learn than 3rd Form French. Or maybe it’s because I’m so old that my brain just hasn’t got the room anymore to absorb such foreign knowledge. Surely it’ll get easier the more I practice, right? Right?

I’m hoping to stick with it but truth be told, I’ll probably crack under the pressure and give up in a few weeks time, consigning the book to the Graveyard of Technical Books pile in the spare room. Already residing there is HTML 4 for Dummies, a printed out manual for TrueSpace 4 and numerous magazines with discs containing free graphics programs.

I hope not: I want to be able to use my knowledge of toggling silent mode somewhere.

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