Hmmm... I'd say that online apps and services are more the future than any desktop tools aside from really heavy stuff like Photoshop and CAD. The good thing with C (and probably C++/C# to some extent - never looked into them) is that it's pretty much syntactically identical to PHP, and you can make some pretty powerful web tools if you know what you're doing. The good news is that, at least in my experience, C is very easy to pick up and gives you fairly human-readable code (the anti-RegEx, if you will). It lets you develop some good practices that carry over into most if not all languages, and if it turns out that you do something where it's completely irrelevant, you haven't wasted a ton of time. All of my knowledge in C came from ripping apart open-source stuff for a MUD. At first it'd be mostly copy-paste code, but by the time the thing was near the end of its life, I'd made some pretty drastic changes to how it fundamentally operated. I don't think I ever bought an actual book on C, and the only books I own regarding PHP/MySQL are about security and not so much about how to actually write code. Put another way - with a bit of explanation, I was able to show someone with absolutely no coding knowledge a bit of code and he was able to make decent sense of it.