I was after some help on getting my sound working properly. I had some success by running the alsaconf script. This got it working for Skype and RealPlayer that has previously been silent. I later found out that this configuration does not survive a reboot. I'm currently investigating what files and settings are required to make it permanent. From my search results it is obvious that I am not the only one to have this problem.
I've acquired a large selection of Linux Magazine back issues from folk in the LUG. They have some very good articles on setting up various software. I've got enough to keep me going for a while. There's still a lot about the concepts used in Linux that I want to learn.