Where should I start if I want to try out CyanogenMod? I know I am asking a lot of n00b questions, I am just trying to make sure I do this correctly and I want to learn as I am doing it.
Start by installing Titanium Backup from the Market and then making a nandroid backup in recovery. After that it's a matter of getting the software (CM 7 is Gingerbread-based, CM 6 is FroYo-based), wiping your phone, installing the ROM and Google app pack, and then restoring your app via Titanium Backup. Once you've done that it's a matter of testing and tweaking the phone to see if the ROM is right for you.
Let me know when you've made the backups (if you need help with the Nandroid, let me know).
Check your SU app to see if Ti Backup was denied root access. If so, change that and you'll be good to go. Also, try installing Busybox from the market (stericson). If you can get that installed from within the app then you HAVE root and it's just Ti Backup that's being a pain.
Boot into recovery (power phone down, press and hold X on the keyboard and don't let go, power phone up, once the recovery screen appears release X). If the recovery screen has a triangle and a big ! then it's stock and we'll have to start over getting a custom recovery on there. If you get an Andy with a bunch of menus, just scroll down using either the volume keys or the D-pad to backup/restore. Make a simple Nandroid backup. Once it's done you'll have the backup. Reboot into the OS and we'll proceed from there.
Okay, now that we have our apps backed up and a Nandroid backup, the next step is to decide if you want to keep your texts or not. If you do, there are several programs on the Market that do a better job that Ti used to (don't know about the latest version). If you don't care about losing them then the next step is to download the ROM and app pack (I will provide links, just tell me if you want CM6 or CM7), and put them on your SD card. I'm going to recommend that you upgrade to RZRecovery at this point, but it's far from mandatory, simply for the ease of flashing the ROM/App pack, and the fact that the recovery is an update AND an upgrade to SPRecovery.
Rename that update.zip, put it on the root of your SD card, reboot into recovery. Now, Install> Allow update.zip installation> Install update.zip (deprecated). When you reboot you'll have a recovery that looks like this.
[Recovery] RZR SPR-based *update.zips-battery charging-more*
The colors are changed from screen to screen only because it allows custom colors. It also has a flashlight app built in, it charges from recovery, won't flash if your battery is too low, restores clockwork as well as sprecovery backups, is oveclocked for faster backups and restores, etc. etc. etc. It's just awesome.