I'm interested in building a custom gui for chess.com's Live chess. Does the site support this? Where can I find documentation on interfacing with live chess programmatically?
Not yet, why? If you are in a position to make this happen, I will be happy to talk with you about my credentials and plans.
As far as I know there is no (public) API for chess.com. Thats not to say that if you contacted them directly they wouldn't be interested.
As a professional I've written everything in Java. Recently I've played around a bit with Objective-C checking out iPhone apps. The chess software I'm building now will be in Java.
C/C# is very useful, you can quickly pickup Objective-C for the iPhone with that background. Java is a great language, particularly for server-side development. I recommend learning about test-driven development, good testing will save you a lot of pain in your career.
+1 test-driven development
My advice also is to learn programming in C, C++, or Java. And my first language was Scheme.
what is visual basic for anyways?
Slapping the sh*t out of MS Office and telling it to do what it should've been able to do in the first place. IT pro's will find little use for VB, but it's good for non-IT folk to pick some of it up to cut down the time it takes doing menial copy/paste/format jobs (which unfortunately is DEATHLY important to managers etc. to make sure the carriage return is located correctly).
Hey I got a job at a hedge fund because they were impressed with my VBA programming skills. True story...
I also worked at a major hedge fund and it can be amazing the kinds of technology they are using (not in a good way). Billions on the line and it's all run with Excel and drawings on napkins. :)