Problem getting started

I have successfully installed the Aurdino dev environment (Win Vista) and usb serial driver. The environ shows the COM port and when I connect to it I get periodic garbage chars in the serial monitor window. I made sure 9600,N,8,1 on both sides (and tried other rates) - no difference. I get a periodic (every second or so) stream of about 5 characters (at 9600 baud). If I try to upload the blink LED test - the IDE locks up. I have to disconnect the USB to unlock the IDE. Any ideas? (I’m using a duemilanove)

I made sure 9600,N,8,1 on both sides

What do you mean on both side?

with the blink you don't need the serial Monitor? if you open the serial monitor and get garbage every 5 sec, you are probally not connect to the arduino serial port!

Thank you for responding...

Both sides - I mean the COM port settings in the control panel on my PC match the selected rate in the dev environment

Yes, I understand the led blink example doesn't use the serial monitor...the garbage shows up when the monitor is on (regardless of which sketch is loaded, or none)

Only COM3 shows up as an available port - if I disconnect the USB cable, COM3 disappears - so I think I'm on the right port

I figured it out...the IDE defaults to the duemilanove (which is what I have) - but I needed to select ATMega328 since that is the uC I've got on board...after I did that it worked fine.