Hello RISD MySQL class students. I welcome you to our class together. The next six weeks should provide a fantastic ride for you as you learn the big picture of how dynamic organizational data is maintained and presented on the Web for the benefit of those who care about the organization (or at least the products or services it provides). We'll be getting our hands active with creating databases, populating them with data, managing the data as it changes, and viewing the data in thoughtful ways that lets us know how our organization is doing (are we being productive and yet in a way we meet organizational goals — with the definition of goal being very expansive for our purposes (for example, a goal could be to have fun, or perhaps, curb global warming — anything personal, for profit, or non-profit, or a hybrid of two or more). By all means, be creative with your definition of what an organization is... think of an organization as a place where data comes together with a need to be organized. That'll get you thinking broadly of how MySQL and the other technologies we'll be using to implement our database can be used to change the world for the better.
You can get started today, even though we don't get together until June 10th. Do two things to get a jump start:
1. Read the basics on our class project through the home page link.
2. Install WAMP on your Windows-based laptop following the instructions below (or, if you have a Mac or Linux machine, install WAMP or LAMP by Googling and reading instructions you feel comfortable performing on your laptop - if you are uncomfortable at all, don't do it until after you have some experience with the classroom computers).
The two steps above will get you going. If motivation is a problem, surf the Web looking for the data involved behind the scenes. Go to the US Census or another data-driven site and take a look around to get yourself motivated. Tell yourself, "that will be cool when I can do that too". This is not a class I would expect requires me to motivate you too much You are taking it at a wonderful time for your productivity. The tools we will use are as good as they ever have been. If you feel intimidated, I assure you that you won't be midway through our class together.
You might ask me why we are using a Mac lab for this course? My laptops are both Mac-based machines but I weaned myself on relational database management systems using a PC with Windows. On one laptop, I've installed the Parallel Tools software that lets me run a virtual Windows XP session in it to be able to pretend I like Windows. The reason we sometimes use a PC lab at RISD is that the administration of the privileges we need in order to install and run the best software for our purposes is significantly easier than in the Mac labs (classrooms).
We'll see how our class time goes. If we get ahead of the curve, we can all do the various AMP installations together on all operating systems so you can see how cross-platform these tools are (they are more cross-platform than they have ever been as well... lucky us). For now, if you have a Mac, or Windows capable, laptop you can bring to class, you will be pleased since you'll be able to take your work home with you from our class time together. Then again, repetition is a key part of mastery of any subject, eh?
So, give it a go if want to use your own laptop for our class together. Here are the steps I followed without any issues whatsoever:
1. Point your Web browser to the WAMP Server home page.
2.Click on the DOWNLOAD link on the menubar.
3. If you already are a WAMP guru and have WAMP5 installed, decide if you want to use that for class or install the latest WampServer 2.0 (either is fine by me). If you haven't ever put a WAMP version on your machine, click on the lighter grey link that says DOWNLOAD WampServer 2.0i. The download process follows a standard SourceForge install. Make sure you make note of where the download goes on your local hard drive (or network hard drive if you use a browser to save files on a network directly).
4. The downloaded file is an executable. So, you can double-click on it to launch the install. The install process won't ask you for much, but I highly recommend you choose the following options:
Nothing else matters much during the install and if you have reason to choose different values for any of the options above, note what you changed the option to so you can tell me should you need help in the future. The install process includes integrated installation of three powerful products in their own right (yes, you get them free!):
5. Once you have done the install, you can test it by opening up a Web browser and typing localhost in the address bar. That localhost address will then simulate the domain you would plan to upload your database and Web content up to. For example, if you were managing a site for cleanair.org, the localhost address would represent what you'd see when you uploaded your site and typed http://cleanair.org in the address bar. It might seem a little strange that localhost is a valid Web address, but it is a very strong convention you will see again and again as you use more periphery tools with Web development. For those of you who need to see it to believe it, I'll provide a server for you to try it out during our class together.
6. Now, find a tutorial of your liking and learn whatever you are motivated to learn before class. But, don't burn yourself out before our first night together! I took a look at this one and liked it quite a bit.