New to programming - need help setting up a practice platform

Hi everybody.

Here’s the situation: I’ve been given the task of trying to learn programming language (like PHP and mySQL) but, due to old cantankerous machines and absent technicians, I currently don’t have a platform that I can practice on. So it was recommended that I try out Dreamhost.

I simply need somewhere that I can upload PHP files and see them executed in the proper manner. I want to make sure the code’s working without having to worry about whether my server’s gone AWOL. I’ve got a hosting package with Dreamhost, do I need to configure my account in any special ways, or will it already be able to do what I need it to?

Also, if anybody could recommend any good books/websites/resources for learning about programming, that would be awesome.

Cheers. is good.
you can make a subdomain of one of your hosted sites and practice there. i just hide my practice sites behind a simple htaccess require valid user statement.
i’d recommend netbeans or eclipse on your local machine, as well as ubuntu (or wubi if you don’t want to give up windows). uniserver is a good comlpte solution for setting up a local environment to test on.
i started with practice sites on dreamhost, but now i do everything locally in ubuntu. it’s much easier and faster. uploading and downloading files takes time.

Not sure if this will fit your problem but you could always load up the wamp (windows version) service on your local machine. This is free and would allow you to test php and mysql to your hearts content and not even be connected to a network. (there is also a Mamp and Lamp , think i have the names right, for macs and Linux). The service will install apache, PhP, MySQL, PHPMyAdmin etc. It would assume that you have all your work on a single machine. I don’t think there would need to be a lot of changes made when moving over to DreamHost when ready. As for a book “PHP and MySQL Web Development” Developer’s Library Fourth Edition ISBN: 978-0-672-32916-6 has been a great help to me.

there are entire online courses on programming available through MIT opencourseware and similar university offerings. Try YouTube.