Welcome back after long overwork and vacation period :) Let's start small, it's still almost summer.
Bytes in java are always signed and are quite horrible to use because of the casting and weird side-effects (or I'm just stupid enough to call it weird).
But we need unsigned bytes quite a lot. Most of the time for reading various streams (networks, 8bit strings etc) some text stream you still end up with byte streams.
There is a nice trick converting them from signed to unsigned in case you want to get normal 0..255 range for the chars.
byte mybyte = -104;
long mynewint = mybyte & 0xFF;
Hope it helps!
I had quite a nice puzzling while trying to find some easier way. Is there?