Ok, first I've never done any web stuff before, but I have done 'normal' programming, so in other words, I'm a technical guy.
I want to create a website, and rather than have static web pages, which never change, I'd like the site to do stuff. Send out confirmation emails, make decisions based on (say) a persons age, country etc, change the website functionality based on all sorts of things.
Can people please make recommendation about what technologies to use? I'm not sure what is good, what is bad, what is obsolete and what is too cutting edge. I don't mind paying for software, suppose I'd have a budget of $400-500, and I can get an academic discount if that helps with things. I'd rather pay for software that makes life easier for a beginner, rather than waste time with freeware that is less user friendly.
Also I'd prefer some technology that has a lot of books available via interloan rather than just what's available on the web. BTW, if you want to see what's available via interloan: the Te Puna database here has it.
edit: forgot to say that I'm running Windows.