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Noobs 'R' Us


GermWarfare
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Hello all. New member.

I have two questions. Firstly, do you (the site/forum) define Hacker as (a) 'an unpaid computer programmer who does it for fun' or (B ) 'someone who likes to break software (usually other peoples)'?

If the answer to question 1 is (B ) then I'm on the wrong kind of forum, so could someone please let me know where I can find a forum for people like in answer (a)?

If the answer is (a) then read on to question 2...

I would like to make a program for use at my work. Basically I want to be able to quickly run up a sales quote. It doesn't need to be printed, it will only be for personal use. There will only be a couple of things needed to be entered, and preferably be multi-platform (Windows and Linux). The Items to be entered would be product name, retail price, cost price, with only the product name selected from a drop-down list and the retail and cost price automatically inserted and calculated. I have made an OpenOffice.org sheet that does it but don't want to have to rely on people having OpenOffice.org (or similar) installed. The product/price section (drop-down list) would need to be easily edited (ie. comma separated text file) due to changing products and prices.

Now, I have very little programming experience, (BASIC in 1990 or so)... or none... I realise that a web interface is going to be the easiest way to make it cross platform, but I haven't the first clue about what language I should learn. I don't mind a steep learning curve, but want to make enough ground to be able to have my project functioning within a few weeks.

So...

Question 2... What should I learn?

Hehe... :blink: Thanks in advance.

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Answer to question 1 is both.

Answer to the second question is PHP, depending on your budget and also the size of your Business, you could either host your webserver on an internal server (could be Windows XP - limited # of connections, Windows Server - $$$ or even Linux - ???) You could also get some external hosting.

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Question 1: Glad you're here for A and not B, I'm guessing by B you mean cracking rather than hacking. We're definitely A, though.

Question 2: I second PHP. It's easy enough to run a server locally (that can be accessed externally if required) and can be done for free using Apache (to serve everything), PHP (to code the application) and if you need one, MySQL (for databases) on Linux, Windows or OSX. There are packs you can use to install those all together, check out LAMP/WAMP/XAMPP and all the other variations of those, they'll make it really simple to get started.

Next you'll need to learn some basic PHP. Security comes with good coding practices and a little knowledge of how to break a web application, though if this is all going to be internal and only used by you that's not a top priority. If you intended on having it externally accessible I'd get very comfortable with how web apps can be exploited and how you can help prevent successful attacks. If you don't need that it'll make your job a lot easier and while most of sane mind would strongly suggest that you do work on security when coding, you gotta run before you can walk. I'd strongly suggest keeping it on a fully enclosed machine that's not connected to any external networks (ie: the internet), at least to start with.

http://www.php.net/ should give you a few hints in the right direction, some basics on how PHP works and how to start off making simple systems with it.

Good luck and have fun. Oh, and welcome to the forum.

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Welcome to the forums.

PHP + MySql = Free, Cross Platform, Easy to learn and use. Did I mention, Free?

All that would be required by an employee/visitor is a webrowser to point to your PHP page once you create the DB with all the details.

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Thank you all.

So PHP is the go then!

Alrighty. I'll get right on it. Although serving the page with apache might be going a little far as the internal network consists of the computer at reception (also doubles as a file server (shared windows folder)) and 1 occasional client in the form of a laptop.

This is more of a personal project. An excuse to learn to code and something to keep me motivated.

Thanks for all the suggestions, and I'll let you know how it finishes.

BTW OpenOffice.org on a pen drive???? Where's the fun in that? :P

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This weekend I installed CentOS on a spare partition and installed bluefish for html editing. Then I started reading (HTML 4 for dummies) and hacked my first web site, all from scratch (It's a work in progress). It's all HTML, no scripting as yet, but check it out and see what you think for a sunday's work. :)

Ross @ Home

It's not much, I know, and you could all probably stitch that up in about 5 minutes, but I'm proud of it. The logo needs work though... :unsure: you don't need to tell me that!! ;)

So, I'm getting basic HTML down, although I think there's about an encyclopedia of stuff I don't know about CSS, but I'll get to that.

Any suggested reading for learning PHP?

Thanks,

Ross.

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Any suggested reading for learning PHP?

I made the mistake of buying a PHP book. It didn't help me learn it at all. The best thing I found(and this is just my opinion, books may appeal to you more) was to just download different scripts and see how they worked. Mostly I googled for ideas, like if I needed a php login script, or php shoutbox, upload scripts(Be sure to sanitize the input on these, lesson I learned the hard way), etc. But mostly, I just hit up the thephp website and went through their glossary of functions and terms, because they give you easy, copy and past working examples that you can then mangle and play with until you break them. Then, once you see what you did to break them, you try to figure out how to fix the code.

Biggest thing with PHP is remembering to use the correct tags and syntax. HTML is very forgiving, and most browsers can render an html page very quickly without breaking it or having things not work for the most part. PHP is very exact, so missing one semicolon, or dollar sign, etc, can really throw you for a loop. One thing to note, if you get a script that gives you an error and it tells you what line it is on, best thing is to open it in something like Notepad++. It can be a life saver, as most text editors don't show you the line numbers on the left side, Notepad++ makes it pretty easy to find the error right away.

Few other things to note, PHP is very powerful, so if you have it installed locally, and pointed to the web(or even on your own host, etc) be sure to check the basic phpinfo to see what your settings are. A lot of exploits and security holes can be fixed by checking there first and turning off any features that may pose a threat to your machine. Quickest way to lock it down is create a php.ini file in the root folder of your webdocs(or just use the one provided with your installation) with the settings you want turned off/on.

Best resource to get you started: http://www.php.net/manual/en/

Great place for the basics and also gets into MySql(which is used a lot with PHP): http://www.w3schools.com/PHP/

Some sample scripts to play with and learn from: http://www.hotscripts.com/PHP/index.html

Good luck!

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I learnt PHP myself, which is probally why I struggle sometimes (especially with security) I work in a way where If I can see something working, and I have the source I can rip it apart and trying to made addons etc, I remember learning basic HTML from 3 webpages - AOL, Compuserve and some other random offline website opened the files in notepad and started subsituting background=white to red... save and see what happens.

PHP is so commonly used that Google is probally better than any book, W3schools has all the basic tutorials, hotscripts will provide quick scripts, and php.net has all the php functions listed :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just for the sake of bringing up another choice, why not Perl? The CPAN has more ready-to-use components for Perl than you could ever dream of.

If you want to read up on Perl look at http://perldoc.perl.org/perlintro.html first and go on from there. The official documentation is probably more than you will ever need.

p.s. also IMO PHP is badly designed, but that's just me.

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