How to program on the web
(a working title)
If you are already a programmer then put this book back on the shelf and go make some money this book is not intended for you. This book is written for the common person. The slack jawed masses who wonder what it is that programmers do and why companies are willing to put up with our strange sense of humor, our disregard of company dress policies, our general lack of social skills and pay us gobs of money to do it.
If you ever picked up a book on programming and were immediately frustrated and gave up, this is the book for you. I will tell exactly how to do what you need to do with simple words that anyone can understand. I will not go into more detail than is necessary and I promise that this book will be easy to read and actually enjoyable… funny in fact… It will be a laugh riot. you will literally piss your pants while reading it.
What you will need to succeed:
1) Patience. If you are the type of person who gives up after the first try, then go back to flipping burgers you will never be successful.
2) Persistence. If you are the type of person who gives up after the second try, then I feel sorry for you, but go get a job at Walmart being a greeter because that is all you will ever get out of life.
3) A computer with internet access. I can’t help you here, you do actually need to have a computer and an internet connection or you are screwed.
4) About a hundred bucks. You will need to buy some things, not much, about a hundred bucks will do the trick.
How this book is written:
While I could go through all the steps to do everything you need to do in excruciating detail, the reality is that this would not do you much good. This is true because technology is constantly changing. The instructions I give you today might not be correct a week from now. What I will do instead is give you general instructions for how I have done the things I am asking you to do. In addition I will also give you “Things to google”. The most important tool that I have ever used is by far Google. If it were not for Google I would not be where I am today, but most people don’t know how to properly google. I will teach this.
Chapter 1: Where am I?
How does this internet thing work anyway? let me explain. You have a computer. Your computer has a thing called a browser. A browser is that thing you click on to get to the internet. If that thing has an ‘e’ on it then it’s probably called ‘Internet Explorer’, if it looks like a blue planet with a orange fox surrounding it then its called ‘Firefox’, or perhaps you click on something that looks like a simon-says game, This one is called ‘Chrome’. Your browser is not called ‘Google’ or ‘AOL’ or ‘Yahoo’ or whatnot, these are simply places you go once you are on the internet.
When you enter a name into the browser (like www.google.com, or “google”) what is happening is you are connecting to another computer somewhere else that has a program on it which gives you the information you want. That program is simply a file, or a bunch of files (think a piece of paper with text on it but in digital format) that is saved on that machine. That machine is called the ‘Host’. The Host machine gives you the file by passing it from one machine to another until it finally arrives at your computer. It is your browser which then takes that bunch of text and turns it into what you see on your computer, be it text or images or links or videos. The way this file is transferred is what we call the internet and it lives by some fairly basic rules.
First rule is, in order to put something on the internet you have to register your domain. The ‘domain’ is the thing that you type into the browser (ie www.google.com). Only one person can own any one domain name at a time so there exists an international group that stores all the information about who owns what domains. That group is called ICANN. It generally costs about $10 to register a domain name for one year but sometimes you will see a much higher cost. What this means is that someone else already purchased that domain and they are re-selling it for a higher price. We call these people domain squatter’s, or in laymen’s terms ‘ASSHOLE’.
Second rule, is you have to have a computer to store your program. You must have a ‘Host’ of your own. While it is possible to set up your own host, this is a rather difficult task for a newbie so most people choose the option of paying for a host. This can cost anything from absolutely nothing to hundreds of dollars a month. My experience has shown me that the free sites are not worth the trouble so I suggest you go with one of the relatively inexpensive choices such as www.hostgator.com. The one I would avoid is www.godaddy.com. Keep in mind that I am only referring to hosting a site here. Godaddy is a great site to register your domain, it just sucks for actually hosting it. Another site to avoid altogether is www.networksolutions.com. they just suck.
Here is how you set up your first site:
1) Go to www.godaddy.com and start brainstorming ideas for the name of your website. Type them into the domain search and see if they are available. Once you get a good one go ahead and purchase it. I suggest only paying for one year at a time and watch out because godaddy will do everything in it’s power to sell you a bunch of crap that you don’t really need. if you paid more than $20 when it’s all said and done you did something wrong.
2) Find a good hosting company (ie hostgator.com) and purchase a package. I think mine costs about $7 a month and gives me unlimited storage and domain names.
Once you have these two things you have to make them work together. What you need to do is make the registrar (godaddy) point to the host. How this is done is different for each registrar and each hosting company so you are going to have to do some research. In general the thing you are trying to do is point the nameservers from the registrar to the host, which means you need to go to the host to figure out what the nameservers are. Here is an example of the nameservers I have from this site:
ns2.hostgator.com (this is a backup in case the first one fails)
Things to Google:
How to point godaddy nameservers to hostgator site
how to set up godaddy nameservers
can’t get nameservers to point to hostgator
what are my hostgator nameservers?
Of course you will want to replace ‘hostgator’ and ‘godaddy’ with your registrar and hosting company. Another thing to note about proper googling is simply to not give up. You should look at every response, it might take 50 results for you to find the answer to the question. When you finally do get the answer take note of the site that you are on because there will be a good chance that you can get other answers from this site in the future. In fact here are some sites that I already know are good.
www.w3schools.com: This site is great for beginners, keep in mind that not everything on the site is actually correct however the bulk of it is.
www.tizag.com: I love this site. well written. For beginners and advanced
www.stackoverflow.com: This is a great site but people get real technical on it. If you ask a question on there you will likely get an answer like ‘Um how about reading the manual’. Remember the part I said about programmers not being very social, you shouldn’t take offense at these types of responses even though they are aggravating, just ask the question again, or ask for clarification.
Depending on your host you will have to do different things to get an actual site up. On hostgator you have to add and ‘addon domain’ which is something you can do from your control panel when you log in. when you do this you are telling hostgator to create a folder called ‘yoursite.com’ and that folder is where you will store all of your programs. If you can get this far, what you want to do next is create a file in that folder called ‘index.html’ and put these words in the file ‘Hello world’ then save the file.
At this point you should be able to type your domain name into your browser and see ‘Hello World’ on the screen. Do not get frustrated if this does not happen immediately. Use the tools at your disposal. If you are on hostgator you can ask them what you are doing wrong and they are usually very helpful, or ask some programmer friend to guide you.
As soon as you do get this working, give yourself a pat on the back and go have a beer. Take a break and let this knowledge sink in.
Chapter 2: Ok now what