Study aids for the newbie
After the initial shock of "Too Much Information/Sensory Overload" I started to look for a few tools/processes that would ease my transition into the game. Here's what I've found so far that has helped me, perhaps this will help other fellow newbies as well.
1. Pick up a copy of "Chess for Rookies", it's a simple, fun, easy to read volume loaded with basic puzzles and processes. It will give you a great introduction to the game.
2. Get a premium account on Chess.com (EDIT: I don't work for or get any money from Chess.com). Do this if only for the Learning section, Tactics Trainer, Chess Mentor, and Computer Workout. All three of those things will help tremendously, be prepared to be humbled as they are unbashed in their ability to make you look silly as a newbie.
3. Now that you are feeling thoroughly humbled and confused pick up a copy of "Studying Chess Made Easy". Simply put this book is loaded with great advice, you've got to read it cover to cover, and bring a highlighter or notebook as the nuggets pop up often and are easy to forget.
4. (EDIT: With my work/family life playing live opponents wouldn't be fair or much fun.) Find a good Chess partner. For me it's been my iTouch and the Chess.com "Play against the Computer" option. Why? Simple, the Chess.com computer has 10 levels of difficulty, as I beat one level I can move up and become a punching bag all over again. Also the computer tends to play the same responses in the early levels, making it great for working on something like the Alekhine's Defense. Last, it has the excelllent "Email Game" feature, which brings me to my final tool.
5. Cash out and buy a copy of Fritz. At first it looks overwhelming, so many options, so many buttons, etc. However after a few weeks playing with it I found out how to load all my iTouch/Chess.com games into it, and get both a Blunder Check and Full Analysis. The resultant discoveries have been very, very useful. Yes, I make lots of mistakes, however I'm finding I'm making fewer and fewer now that I've been told where I "blew it" by Fritz. As an aside, I get a chuckle out of Fritz's commentary, "There is no hope now!", "Can't avoid the end.", "What were you thinking!" (EDIT: Fritz can be so nice, sort of a Digital Silman. ).
Well that's about it so far, thought I'd post this for other newbies who come along, but take it with a grain of salt, as I expect I'll have to revise this as I learn more.