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So, first some quick background. I dropped out of college many years ago, back in the olden times of 1999. I have since worked my way up to being a Sr Perl Developer at a small company through a lot of hard work, self study, personal projects, etc. I'm good at what I do, but I am lacking the formal education, which I'm sure does have some level of negative effect on my development skills when it comes to algorithms, optimization, etc. Perl is also problematic. While I love Perl and think it's a damn fine language to write many things in, there's fuck all for Perl work locally even when the economy isn't completely screwed.
The most obvious choice for me to move to is Java. It's common locally, it's primarily used (at least locally) in Unix/Linux environments where I've already got a lot of experience. I've done a little Java work on my own, but I'm certainly no expert. I've been told by other local developers who are good friends who make a lot more money than I do that getting Java certified is going to be the way to go.
So, where do I start? I looked at Sun's site about Java certification. I looked on Amazon for study books recently and there was only one. I have no idea if it was any good or not. Are there any specific books any of you can recommend?