USACO

Those TPP and ACSL members interested in USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) (you will all do very well) should register and enter. USACO is a coding-based, algorithm intensive, and TOTALLY AWESOME programming competition! It is conducted entirely online, during whatever three-hour block of time you desire over competition weekend every month. You must solve the problems using Java, C++, C, Python, or Pascal. Everybody starts in Bronze Division. If you do well, you're promoted to Silver, and then Gold (and then you get invited to camp to train for the international team).
If you do not know any of these languages, it is probably best to start with Java (this is merely the original author's opinion, some might suggest Python as the first programming language) - it is extremely easy to learn if you know JavaScript. I would be much obliged if somebody would post a very short tutorial (or a link to one) on how to obtain NetBeans or JCreator from scratch and how to create, compile, and run a simple Hello World program (and how to write a simple static method of the main class for use as a C style function). I have a couple of handouts introducing a few additional basic features of Java at http://programmers.tpclubs.com/robocode/. See Fundamentals of Programming and String Handling

There is a contest this weekend and it would behoove you - especially freshmen - to take part. Click 'Register' and follow the instructions (note: it is important to actually read and try the instructions/problems on the first few training pages). JOIN! You know you want to.

Main site: http://www.usaco.org or http://www.uwp.edu/sws/usaco/
(it would do first-timers well to click on the page titled "First Timers")To register: Fill out the form at http://ace.delos.com/usacoregister
Training site: http://train.usaco.org/usacogate