hi everyone -

i'm adding a shopping section to a site for an organization that i'm involved with. i volunteered to take on this role of adding the shopping section to the site because - (and this is very sad) - i am the most experienced "one of those Internet guys" available.

here's my question - how difficult is it AND what are your recommended ways to dynamically add the sid/memberid tracking to each affiliate link that appears as a result of a user search - (query on a database(s))?

here's the setup: after arriving at a page say index.html, a user clicks on a specific "member" link - that link (instead of using a login), then should set a cookie or session or something like that (to be determined - which i don't know how to do yet and am open to suggestions for what is best) which then i suppose could cause a query on the mysql database to fetch and display 2 variables that are "member" specific - a "member name" to be displayed in a header position on all subsequent html pages as well setting that SID/member id value in all affiliate links thereafter - (for tracking of our members' purchases at select merchants).

i'd like to start off with a few data feeds from bigger merchants and then go from there. i will want the data feeds to be delivered and unzipped automatically by ftp i guess and i'll use php to display them. i want my users search to fetch results from a database comprised several merchant feeds and each of those affiliate links in the database needs to be able to replace the default string in the aff. link with that dynamic member id/SID. so again, what are your recommended ways to do this - sessions? cookies? (i'd love your advice because i know nothing but i enjoy learning).

that's basically my setup. i have no idea really how to do any of that. i know exactly what i want - just not a clue as to how to make it happen. i've read through this entire section of the forum and started on the first 2 chapters of the book by kevin yank that is advertised here. will that book teach me how to do all that i mentioned above? do you have any ideas that sound better to handle what i'm trying to accomplish?

another note: this site is just for a specific non-profit organization. it will not spidered by google - we'll block all robots from all full spidering. it will not be marketed to the public - so google-ability is not an issue at all for the design of the site - i don't need anything static with products at all.

and a related question: data feeds range from about 2 or 3 mb per - all the way to 100 mb or so right? right now, we are on a shared server with plenty of storage, and with 40 gb of transfer. its lunarpages hosting which has been great performance for everything else i've done.

at what level of daily uniques should i be concerned about poor server performance with queries on a small database such as i described above?

i wouldn't expect more than 1,000 unique visitors a day for a long time into the future. what kind of load will that put on a shared server like we have now? i know how to figure with basic html pages and kb counts and hits per day and all - but i don't know if the load on quering a database is much different on estimating our bandwidth needs.

i'd love your thoughts on what i've put together so far. how does this sound for performance, scalability with added fields to the database later, etc. as well as tips or tutorials on how to learn actually make these grand plans happen.

thanks a bunch,