Go to Meetups!
Meetups are a great way to connect with others interested in learning or sharing their knowledge about similar topics. You can meet people who already work in your fields of interests and with technologies that you'd like to learn more about, and you can network with people who might be interested in working on projects, or who might be able to connect you with career opportunities.
For local development, setting up a virtual machine is strongly advised. Vagrant allows you to work with VM software like VirtualBox to create safe, disposable development environments. Below are a couple of links to resources for getting started quickly.