I promised myself at the start of the year that I would try and expand on my (currently very) limited skill set. To get the ball rolling I've decided to start learning php & mysql again.
I'm a complete n00b so you'll have to bare with me.
I'm currently trying to just plough through and code some pretty generic scripts (blog, forum, basic cms etc). Things have been going *ok* so far but I keep running into brick walls. I figured if I started posting here then maybe I could milk some of the communities epic php knowledge.
Welcome to the community, Jon! The way I would say is to do as you're doing. It's exactly what I did. When I wasn't sure about something, I would read up on various websites, or ask for help from friends. Once you are satisfied with the features you have coded, look to add more complex features, and keep going from there.
The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out.
Ahoy Jon! For the longest time until recently, I used to be a script kiddie. Taking bits and pieces of someone elses hard work, compiling it together and using it was an everyday thing for me.
But one thing I've started doing which has made my knowledge expand very fast is to take those scripts and instead of just using them, read through them. If there was a function or operation I didn't understand, I would look it up. I would then rewrite the coding in my own style and format, while at the same time trying spice it up and also make it easier for someone else to understand. If I hit any bumps, I'd look online for suggestions.
I bought two books a year ago (Sam's Teach Yourself PHP, MYSQL and APACHE All in One and PHP and MYSQL Bible) and read through each of them twice but still couldn't put the knowledge to the test. And since I couldn't make any scripts, I started forgetting all of it. The books mean nothing without the experience to reinforce them.
My suggestion? Try doing a freelance job for some friends, family or co-workers. If they pay you, great. But don't solicit for money. Just let them know that you need to do it for the experience and professional portfolio. That will put you in the motivational mindset to not only succeed, but take your knowledge to an even higher standard.
For example, using this method, in the past two months I've gone from a 2, to a 7 out of 10 with my knowledge and understanding of php.