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About the Cattle Drive

It is our opinion that the best way to learn a new language is to jump in and write some programs. An added perk is to have someone around who knows the language to tell you how you are doing it all wrong.

Because we get so much pleasure in ridiculing others, we're willing to "help" you in this way. The trouble is that you are there, and we are not. Plus, belittling one person at a time was becoming time consuming. So we came up with this lovely system.

We provide a list of assignments. You do the first one, and we'll tell you how you screwed it up. You send back the revision, and we repeat the process. If we can't find anything to pick at, we'll send you the instructor's solution. Then you move on to the next assignment. You do only as many of the assignments you want to do. Move at your own pace.

If you have a question about an assignment, do NOT send an e-mail! Instead POST a message in the JavaRanch Big Moose Saloon forum called "Cattle Drive (java college)".

Effective May 1, 2001, the tuition for this course is US$200.00*. This entitles you to full nitpicking on all assignments. That's $200 for our way (pain, torture, rewriting your code to satisfy us) or $2000 for your way (you always write beautiful code, and we can never find anything to pick at). For students who began the course before May 1, 2001, we're happy to continue nitpicking your assignments at no additional charge. Just make sure you keep posting.

Some students have posted their opinions of the course in this thread.

How to register:

    Step 1: Register (properly) (if you're not already registered)

    Step 2: Pay up!

    Use your credit card, write an e-check or do a bank transfer through PayPal by clicking on this button


Before you start your first assignment, be sure to read the style guide. Any decent employer will have a style guide. It is important that you be flexible enough to be able to conform and follow the style. If you have ever tried to work in a multi-programmer environment that didn't have a style guide, you know exactly what we mean. Many things in this style guide are common to the style guides of all companies.

When you have an assignment completed, send an e-mail with the assignment in plain text in the body of the message. Make sure that your editor didn't stuff in a bunch of goofy characters or tabs so that we can't read it. The subject of the email should be "[cattle drive] Assignment", which allows us to easily search and filter our emails. We'll mail you back our comments, usually within 48 hours. **

This approach is a lot like object oriented programming. The focus is on the assignments, and the methods are attached.

Don't get flashy with your assignments - it just makes more work for us. More work means slower nitpicking.

* The money goes to JavaRanch. The nitpickers are JavaRanch volunteers, not paid employees.

** Nitpickers return assignments as soon as possible. Occasionally that means delays due to life getting in the way.