On 10/10/2012 10:07 AM, Floyd Resler wrote:

On Oct 10, 2012, at 9:12 AM, Andy McKenzie <amckenz...@gmail.com> wrote:

Have you read a book on php and perhaps one on CSS to help
with your "hiding" problem?  (BTW - that last was a hint.)

I've read plenty of PHP books I own at least 5 and ALL of them I've read
hardly ever explain anything at all. They just throw some code in there and
say "this is what it does" and gives a picture of the finished product. Total
waste of my money! Also, how am I going to learn PHP if I've got to mix it all
up with CSS. It's just going to make things harder and more confusing on me. I
only threw lightbox in there because I knew I didn't have to do or learn
anything special and to put a smile on my face if it worked. After all, if it
can't be fun, why do it?

I rarely post anything to this list, because almost everything asked
is above my level of understanding.  But, speaking as a relative
beginner, I have a few comments here.

1) Books.  I, too, have read a lot of PHP books.  In the end, the ones
I've found most useful were by WROX press.  Their "Beginning PHP4" by
Choi, Kent, Lea, Prasad, and Ullman was one of the best "intro to
programming" type books I've found for the way I learn.  It's now
obsolete, but the core information is still good.  I haven't read
through the Beginning PHP 5.3 version as thoroughly, but it also seems
to be pretty good.  You might also want to check with local community
colleges to see if someone offers a basic course -- PHP, C, C++,
something like that.  The language may be different, but the concepts
remain the same.

2)  "They just throw some code in there and say "this is what it does"
and gives a picture of the finished product. Total waste of my money!
Also, how am I going to learn PHP if I've got to mix it all up with

  This one's harder.  These days CSS is part of the web, and you're
stuck with it if you want to do anything complex.  So here's my
advice:  Find something simple to experiment with.  Don't start with a
complex project, start with something that doesn't actually do
anything useful.  When I start trying to understand a function I
haven't used before, I build a new page called something like
"foo_test", where foo is the name of the function.  These days it
might be ip2long_test, or something like that, but I still have some
in my test folder with names like "echo_test.php" where I was trying
to figure out how that function worked.  Start there.  Do something
simple.  Lightbox may be too complex.  Maybe build a fortune cookie
webpage, where every time you click a button it reloads with a new
fortune.  Learn to pull fortunes out of a file and out of a database.
Once you've got the hang of that, start using CSS to change how it
looks.  Once THAT's working right, figure out how to use JavaScript
(you're going to need it sooner or later!) and AJAX to make it reload
the fortune without reloading the whole page.

  Yeah, it's a boring project.  But it's a stepping stone to doing
what you really want to do.  The alternative is to do what I did:
start with a big project, and accept that you're going to rewrite it
dramatically later.  I started with a book inventory system.  First I
built a login and authentication system -- that builds a form, and
queries the database to see if the userid and password are correct.
Then I built a system to list what was in the book table for the
database.  Around the time I finished that, I realized I needed more
granularity in user logins, so I went back and rebuilt the login tool.
Then I realized I didn't actually have a way to add stuff to the DB,
so I built that tool.... and so on.  It ended up taking me something
like a year, because I'd never looked at PHP before, and I've now
scrapped the entire project and rebuilt it.  Why?  Because I did just
about everything wrong.  It just plain wasn't practical to try to fix
it.  I'd never learned the basics, I just threw myself at a big
project to see what would happen.

  Good luck!

-Andy McKenzie

Excellent advise!  When learning any language, those small steps you suggest is 
how I've always learned the language.  A few years ago I ran across someone who 
didn't know a thing about programming but wanted to learn.  The first project 
he wanted to tackle was to write his own online role playing game.  You know, 
like World of Warcraft!  Uh, yeah.  I steered him away from that!

Take care,

All great advice but alas, I fear that my long-winded response that began all these succeeding advice columns has steered our OP away from this list. He thinks we're above his level (we are) and that he needs to start somewhere else, which means he'll probably repeat the mistakes that have been mentioned here. Oh, well.... you can only help those who ask for it, and only if they know what to do with it.

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