I put "proper language" in speech marks because, well, it's quite a personal thing as to what most people consider proper languages. Batch programming is generally considered a useful little thing to know, but not really a whole proper language in itself. VB
.NET is an easy language to start with and for that reason it's annoyingly popular, but it lets you slip into some VERY bad habits and in the context of seasoned programmers it's often seen as a bit of a running joke. (That's no disrespect to people that program in VB
, some of the best coders I know started that way. But in itself it's really not enough... and a lot of the most awful code I've seen has been in VB
Java and flash are two completely separate things - and if you want to learn a decent, widely used and general purpose language I'd just forget flash, at least for the time being. Concentrate on one
You can use notepad, and it is one way of starting off. It's quite good actually in the sense that it teaches you the command line tools and how to write everything from the word go. It's not the easiest however.
I'd recommend using BlueJ, and if you're willing to buy a book the "objects first" text book written by the same guys that wrote BlueJ. It's a very well written guide on getting into OO programming, I'd advise following it through and work through all the examples. By the time you've finished you should have a pretty good basic grounding in Java and OO concepts in general.
Yes, you *can* use online tutorials, but be careful - there's a heck of a lot of badly written ones out there, and the good ones aren't always as easy to find as you'd think.
As for the fun bit - check out Greenfoot
. It's also a Java based thing and will also teach you some good OO concepts, but it has the advantage that it's very easy to get started programming something cool with not much knowledge. I used to run day long classes every so often using this for GCSE students (~14-16 years old ish), none of whom had programmed before, and by the end of the day with some help they all had a functional game going. It really is tremendous fun, and you can do some cool things with it too.
Let me know if you want help with any of the above tools - I worked on Greenfoot in particular for a while so I know the ins and outs of it
All the above tools are free (including the JDK which you'll need to download for Java development) so it's literally just a case of downloading and going!