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Find some good books, like 'Java in nutshell'; and read from the very begining. Make this in mind, that you are not learning a language, but learning the concept of programming (like FEATHER said). One other important thing is, practice as much as you can.
For microsoft technologies, if you don't know C++, then VB is what you must know, and all other aspects like server setup/maintenance, SQL server are quite easy and strait forward. It's hard to grasp VC in a short time, not because the language or usage, but the library provided by Windows, and windows itself.
If you don't have UNIX experience, I think LINUX is a good start point. Make sure you have a book handy for help.
From the programer point of view, the difference between each database are NOT so big. What you will need to do is: write a propriate SQL statement / procedure in the SQL language/grammer for that database; know how to use the client software for that database. Database maintainence is a better option, but it's hard for you to really know without some true experience. SQL server is quite easy to install, maintain and use, and should be a good start. Oracle is the most popular db now; some others like mysql, POSTGRESQL are also in the list.
You may post your study progress here, and I believe many friends will also benefit from it.
BTW, you can find many useful staff / assignment from Utoronto's web site. I will ask my leader for the address of Java, and post it here later.
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