Links and Books
I have to say that I am a fan of Python. Even though there are a lot of programming lagnuages out there, I believe that this is one of the more sensible (while not the fastest). So I would suggest giving it a try.
My favorite 2D drawing and graphics design tool. I really like the PDF import capability.
A good book for learning python for new and advanced programmers. I have used it extensively to improve my understanding of Python.
Very good book to introduce yourself to OOP and pure C++. There is also a similar book for Java and a book in-progress for Python.