#1. "RE: New gear now the learning curve on how to use it!" In response to In response to 0
Surprised nobody has responded yet. So i'll weigh in with full disclosure that i'm learning lighting as well, so not a guru.
You've put a lot out there. Each is it's own area depending on style, skill, space, and experience using them (ie -practice)!
I spent/spend a ton of time on youtube. Some great how-to's, plus quite a few that are less helpful (to be nice).
Smokingstrobes is one of my favorites. Simple setups - very "Strobist" (usually - he also does more complex setups). Obviously strobist and their whole site is an amazing resource. Usually speedlight oriented - very "grab and go" and "gun on the run".
I seem to learn better visually, so the Studio lighting essentials by Mark wallace was informative. One light was awesome. Strobist lighting in layers has been informative and packed w/ good info.
So many ideas and things to play with - just depends on what you want to do.
So what are you looking to do w/ these lights? Studio stuff, or lighting on the go (remote, street, ??), or something else?
from my limited experience, umbrellas are a great start (both shoot through and bounce). Light boxes typically seem to provide better control of the light (where it does/does not go). Further can be focused via grids, flags, etc.
Ratios are easy to explain (simple math 1:1, 1:4, etc.) Mastery is another thing! Check out the videos on Youtube, or look at some of the online articles (some great ones you can find via google). The above videos also go into detail (what i've seen) that should help.
I've not completely watched all the above, but keep learning every time i get time to watch one! I think of it as tools on my "bat belt" - for use next time i need them. Not one way is correct, and the others are wrong... my opinion so worth what you paid for it! hehehe.
Anyway - i hope the long winded response gives you some areas to look into. Obviously not a guru, but a fellow student of light, learning as i go.