So I'm reading Head Rush Ajax (Head First) from O'Reilly and its a great book so far. I've only gotten through the information-rich first chapter, but it has a new, graphical style that contributes well to learning rapidly. I'll post a full review after I've read a few more chapters.
The examples in the first chapter depend on the installation of PHP, and since I had just spent four hours reading and doing the exercises (shoot me, I'm SLOW!), I definetly wasn't into expending any further energy of a prolonged PHP and Apache install on my Linux box. So I took the low road and installed Easy PHP on my Windows XP box using the executable from here:
Since I already had IIS running on port 80, I changed the default Apache port to 82. You'll need to do that in httpd.conf and restart. Even though IIS is running on a different port, the Apache start utility does not like it when there is another web server on port 80, so make sure you have the IIS web server or IIS admin process shutdown before you restart Apache.
Once I restarted Apache, I could then restart IIS with no problem. I then copied the first chapter of Head Rush Ajax (Head First) to \Program Files\EasyPHP1-8\www\ then accessed the web server locally (from the browser on the web server itself) at http://localhost:82/boards/boards.html.
My updated code came up and worked first time out! Yeehoo!