You will get a lot of replies like that from the Linux community but there not all that bad. Like you I am a n00b and have spent a happy afternoon trying to get mine up and running so I will share what I have learnt. It may be all wrong mind you.
As had been said before go to http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup
This site is going to be your bible while getting used to Linux.
Under the heading "Easiest way" download a copy of RasPiWrite by clicking on the link or going direct to the website http://exaviorn.com/raspiwrite/
Have a read through that site and as you scroll down you will a section called "how to" follow the instructions.
I am not a mac user but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if you need to download the Debian squeeze image from here http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads
download the zip file and extract it. You will end up with a .img file this is the operationf system that you are going to build onto the sd card.
Once you have done all that pop the sd card into the pi and power up. MAKE SURE THE PI IS ON A NON CONDICTIVE SURFACE OR BETTER STILL BUY AA CASE. Look on eBay.
The first time the system boots it may take a while but have faith. It needs to configure itself. If you are going to buy a SD card for the job go got a class 10 card. I find they run reasonably well.
Another thing you will notice is a total and utter lack of sound. This is because the drivers are still in testing so are disabled. Not to worry the web is your friend
Go to http://elinux.org/R-Pi_Troubleshooting# ... plications
(told you elinix is the bible) and you will find your answer but in a nutshell do the following
Without starting the graphical interface and assuming you have logged in a pi, type the two following commands.
sudo apt-get install alsa-utils
This will download and install the drivers. “Sudo” allows you to run the command as a super user “apt-get” tells the operating system to get the application from the “app store”. “Install” tells the operation system you want to install the app and “alsa-utils” is the app. Google apt-get for more info.
Once that has installed and you’re back at your command prompt type
sudo modprobe snd_bcm2835
This tells the operating system to load the audio drivers.
NOTE TO LINUX GEEKS!! I may be using mixed technical terms but I am trying to keep it simple to give the reader a chance of understanding.
sudo aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav (Linux command lines are case sensitive)
You should then hear noise. If you are using an hdmi monitor the audio may come out of the monitor. If not plug some speakers into the socket on the front and reboot so the pi can detect them.
Not that using the above method you will have to run sudo modprobe snd_bcm2835 each time you boot up. You can add this to the modules file so it starts up on boot. The simplest way to do this is to start the GUI by typing
Then go to run and type
When the editor opens go to File > Open then double click on file system under places then navigate to etc > modules (this is a file not a folder so scroll down to find it
Once you have opened it DO NOT delete anything but on the next line type
# loads the sound driver
Save the file then close leafpad. If it asks you to “Save As” you have not run it as above.
Restart the Pi and if you watch the screen as it loads and your quick you will see it load the ALSA drivers. To check log in as pi then type
sudo aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav
and it will play the sound without having to faf around with the modprobe command.
That should keep you and your lad occupied for an hour or so. Remember you cannot break anything physically unless you throw the pi at the wall. Have a Google around on how to back up your SD card so once you have configured you pi you and re image the card if you do screw it up. If you have access to a windows machine this is easy using the software mentioned here.
Good luck and have fun.