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Processing 1.0 Released (no longer beta!)
I've spoken about the Processing language/IDE/community before to NOMMUG. For newbie programmers, its a great way to learn how to code, especially for folks interested in the visual end of things. For more advanced coders, there's a lot of great tools, especially for visual prototyping. The project has been in development for since 2001, and they finally (after 162 revisions) released the first official, non-beta version last week. Its Java, so it certainly doesn't replace Flash for web delivery, but you can learn a lot about coding from Processing...then AS3 will be a snap!
And if you want a book recommendation, I can't give a higer one than to Daneil Shiffman's Learning Processing: A Beginner's Guide to Programming Images, Animation, and Interaction. Best introductory book on programming I've ever read....definitely going to use it in my classes in the future.
And if you want to go crazy with the whole physical computing thing, check out the Arduino project (built on Processing)...heck...need a holiday present for your geekiest friend (or yourself)? Make Magazine Arduino Gift Guide
processing, arduino, code