Well, I decided to start playing with php and mySQL. I did a little bit of research, and it looks like if I want to stick with the windows side, the easiest way to go about things is to download and install XAMPP, which is a package provided by "Friends of Apache". XAMPP is an almost idiot proof installer that contains php 5.x, mySQL 5.x, openSSL, apache, and a few other items. XAMPP is available for winblows, macs, and linux. You can get yourself a copy to play with here.
So far things worked pretty much as advertised, except that I had to change the apache default port from 80 to something else because I'm running IIS (you can do that in the ini file, google it). I noticed that even though Apache is running on port 85 when it loads in the control panel it still says it is running on port 80 even though it isn't, minor glitch.
The second issue I had is with the winMySqlAdmin control I kept getting an access violation that would pop up every 15 seconds or so. The quick fix is here, though I'm sure there is another way you can setup mySQL so you don't have to run it as root.
So far XAMPP is great, and at least initially it looks pretty easy to install and configure.
An alternative to XAMPP would be to get the Abyss web server up and running, which supports pHp and even classic ASP with a shareware add in. I like Abyss because it is one of the few non-IIS windows web servers that supports ASP.Net. Flavors of Abyss come for Windows, Macs, and Linux.You can check Abyss out here-
And then there is always the option to take the non-mac/windows approach and go with Linux, which php and mySQL were really built for. So far I'm favoring the following two distros, but I don't have a data free box yet to install them on.
Next up, actually doing some php development. I need a good IDE, I hear eclipse has a php plugin that gives you intellisense.
[End of Tech Part of Post]
Who knows? Maybe I'll even play with the open source Flex SDK, JavaFX, and the .Net ports of Linux. I feel like I'm kind of stagnating, and I all of sudden I feel the need to explore what else is out there besides M$ products. Don't get me wrong, I don't see C#, ASP.Net, VS Studio, and Sql Server becoming anything but my primary development tool set anytime soon, but sometimes its good to cross pollinate. New ideas and new ways of doing things start to flow that way.
The only show stopper is that I think it is about time to start playing with MS Silverlight. I really want to wait till version 3 comes out, but I'm not sure I'll have time as we might start using v2 3rd party products here in the next few months at work. So all the above might get shoved aside for a bit while I come up to speed with Silverlight.
Anyway, I greatly admire what the open source community has done with php. I'm not so sure about mySQL, but it is free and large scale apps use it, so we shall see. The sweet spot for me on some personal projects that I want to develop might be using abyss to run php and MS SQL Express on an old XP Pro box. The advantage of having a lot of technologies to choose from.