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You've always wanted to learn how to software yourself—or just whip up an occasional —but never knew where to start. Luckily, the web is full of free resources that can turn you into a programmer in no time.

Since the invention of the internet, programmers have been using it to discuss software development techniques, publish tutorials, and share code samples for others to learn from and use online. If you’re curious about how to become a programmer, you can get off to a running start using tons of great free web-based tutorials and resources.

First Things First: Don’t Get Hung Up on Choosing a Language

A common pitfall for beginners is getting stuck figuring out which programming language is best to learn first. There are a lot of opinions out there, but there's no one "best" language. Here's the thing: In the end, language doesn't matter THAT much. Understanding data and control structures and design patterns does matter very much. Every language—even a simple scripting language—will have elements that you'll use in other languages as well and will help you learn. In classes I took to get my degree in Computer Science, I programmed in Pascal, Assembly, and C—languages I never actually got paid to program in professionally. I taught myself every language I've used in my career, reusing concepts I already knew, and referring to documentation and books to learn its syntax. So, don't get hung up on what language to learn first. Pick the kind of development you want to do, and just get started using one that works.

There are several different kinds of software development you can do for various platforms, from the web to your desktop to your smartphone to a . In this article, we’ll outline some of our favorite starter tutorials and resources for teaching yourself how to program for each major platform. We’re going to assume you’re a savvy user, but a newb when it comes to wrangling code snippets, so we’ll keep things at the beginner level. Even just following through a beginner programming tutorial, you’ll be happy to see how far you can get.

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We’ve already mentioned other ways to power up Google Chrome. Before extensions arrived on the developer channel, Userscripts and bookmarklets were your only options. Both are still great ways to add some kick-ass functionality to Chrome. If you’re running the stable or beta builds, you may want to stick to them for now.

Now, onto the extensions!

If you have a favorite that I left off, feel free to share it in the comments!
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15+ great Google Chrome extensions originally appeared on Download Squad on Mon, 02 Nov 2009 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Printliminator is a that gets any webpage ready to print. Once it’s activated, you can click on elements you don’t want to print to them from the page. If you don’t want to do it manually, you can all images on the page using one button. Another button applies a nice default print stylesheet.

Sometimes there’s only one element of a page that’s worth , and The Printliminator has you covered there, too. Instead of clicking to delete one thing at a time, you can option-click to delete everything but what you’re clicking on. If you make a mistake and delete something you wanted to print, there’s no undo. Just reload the page and start over.

Make webpages more printable with The Printliminator originally appeared on Download Squad on Thu, 08 Oct 2009 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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With all the commosion lately relating to ’s closure and reopening most people are opting to setup their own shortning service.
There’s Lessn and Yours.  Both
I searched around but couldn’t get a clear answer that worked.

With all the hullabaloo lately relating to tr.im‘s closure and reopening most people are opting to setup their own shortning service.

There’s Lessn and Yourls.  Both are great but Yours takes the cake for the admin panel and more detailed info.   I followed the LifeHacker Tutorial, but couldn’t get  working.  With the help of this post I figured it out.

change the following line in /etc/2/sites-enabled/000-default

 DocumentRoot /var/www/
        <Directory />
                Options FollowSymLinks
                AllowOverride all
        </Directory>
        <Directory /var/www/>
                Options FollowSymLinks
                AllowOverride all
                Order allow,deny
                allow from all
        </Directory>

then restart apache

/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Theres also a bookmarklet for Yourls from twitter.com/jarbro but I’m still working on getting past the “Unknown” error.

UPDATE: The unknown error is normal.  You just need to drag the links to the bookmark bar.

I have to install 5- just to get the _init() function installed

sudo apt-get php5-curl

sudo  /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Hopefully this helps someone


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With all the drama around brand-name URL shorteners, a lot of blogs have advised people to skip the big guys and create their own. Easier said than done, though, right? Well, maybe not: Lessn, a service from brilliant designer Shaun Inman (who also developed the Fever feed reader), makes getting a personal shortURL as simple as possible. All you need is some server space where you can throw up some and MySQL.

All you have to know how to do to set up Lessn is enter some login info in a php config file and upload the whole package to your server. After that, you’re good to go. You can put in your full URL, and Lessen will give you a short one for it. Then, whenever you want to use your shortener, you can click the included . It might be a lot more work than just using , but having your own shortlinks on your own server means that you don’t have to risk a service shutting down and leaving you with dead links.

[via Lifehacker]

Lessn offers an easy way to create your own URL shortener originally appeared on Download Squad on Thu, 20 Aug 2009 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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URL shortening services are ubiquitous on Twitter and other cramped online spaces. They won’t all last, as tr.im has demonstrated, and their shutdowns could annihilate your linking history. If you own a domain, though, you can host your own service.

Even if you consider the links you’ve shortened for Facebook, Twitter, IMs and other services to be just of-the-moment, nothing-serious items that aren’t worth backing up, leaving a host of dead links lingering around the net isn’t good for anybody, or anybody’s searches. There’s not a lot you can do about your already-posted social network links, but anyone who’s got $10 for a domain name registration, and a creative short URL idea, can host, monitor, and control their shortened links.

We’re going to run through a basic installation of Yourls, a server-based webapp that can run pretty much anywhere a installation can. There are lots of other options, which we’ll get to as well, but Yourls is a fairly smart and fast to get up and running with your own URL shortener.

What you’ll need

  • Hosted or DIY server space: That space must be running at least 4.3, MySQL 4.1, and with “” enabled. In plain English, that’s most any mainstream web server an individual pays about $5/month to for basic hosting. For DIY server types, any installation of LAMP on , WAMP on Windows, or MAMP on a . If you’re going the DIY route with a Windows system, our guide to setting up and hosting a blog on your computer covers many of the basics of patching your own web-facing system together.
  • A domain name: You’ll preferably want something short, which can be difficult in the super-saturated .com/.biz/.net market. You might get inspired and lucky, but you also might need to pay just a bit more for an international top-level domain (TLD)—the part after the period, like .tv, .nl, and the like—which can cost between $15-$90. The URL used in the screenshots up top is an example, albeit not really feasible, unless I figure out how to buy a straight-up Nicaraguan TLD.
  • Access to your server files: Whether you use an FTP client (like one of our readers’ five picks), a , or your host’s web access, you’ll need to copy one folder over somewhere on your server.

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