Get yourself over to www.tweakheadz.com , some great info there, plus generally lurking on the Sound On Sound forum and picking up tips. You could also google studiobuddy for a little downloadable program that has general recording info and tips.
Really depends on what youre trying to record though. There's a nice vague answer for you.
But seriously, you'll get people arguing over PC vs Mac vs Multitrack machine. You'll get people arguing Cubase vs Logic vs Pro Tools. I say pick one and get on with it. It's all about the music, not the tools. I'm a cubase user myself but I would happily swap to any of the others if I had to.
That being said, there is no doubt that Pro Tools is seen as a "standard" and whilst the "lite" version you get with the M-Box/Digi002 etc is limited compared to the expensive HD setups it will probably do exactly what you need and more as a novice. And the interface is very simple and straight forward.
So the suggestion above of "get an mbox" is probably a good start (unless you really want to track live drums, then you need something a bit more advanced). It will come with software to get you going. Add to that a good all round dynamic mic (a Shure SM57 is a classic choice) and a decent condensor mic (in the lower price ranges the Rode and SE Electronics stuff is great) and you're well on your way.
As you get to grips with things and you start taking it more seriously then I would say your single most important buy would be a good set of studio monitors. Being able to clearly hear what is being recorded and played back is essential and a lot of people forget that in the rush to get expensive mics etc.
Since you've already answered the Mac vs. PC vs. Standalone question in your first post and you're looking for a beginners package (I think!), why not consider apple's garageband? If you want to move up from that in the future then you can get logic express or logic pro as the files are compatible. It's also so quite cheap.
I bought a G5 iMac early last year and I'm using Garageband 3 (came bundled with the Mac) with a Line 6 TonePort UX2 interface. Haven't got myself a keyboard or decent mic yet though... It serves my purposes so far!
[quote:cdae099047="flaresnflowers"]Does anyone know if the MBox works with USB 1.1 ok?
My laptop is only USB 1.1 equipped and I have a wireless card poking out of my PCMCIA so aint got room for USB 2.[/quote:cdae099047]