Starting with a humble Texas Instruments TI-99/4A I've developed a strong interest in computer hardware and software. I now build my own computers from scratch and have also done so for friends, (not for free, there is a limit to my generosity). My favorite sources of parts are:
Newegg My newest source of parts. Terrific selection, prices and even standard shipping is very fast. Customer comments range from helpful to the totally clueless who shouldn't be allowed near any technology more advanced than a manual pencil sharpener, and then only with adult supervision.
Central Computers Newark, San Francisco and Santa Clara - Excellent selection and good prices - "Farmers Market" of computer parts. Sadly they don't have any stores in Texas.
Weirdstuff Santa Clara - Overstocks and used parts - half the fun is figuring out what the part is and then getting it to work. Again a shame they haven't branched out to Texas.
From experience as well as trial and many errors, I've settled on a select group of computer parts manufacturers. Of course there are many other manufacturers out there, but these are the ones I've had the most success with in terms of reliability and features I prefer. What is listed in parentheses are the products I use from each company.
Altec Lansing (Speakers)
Antec (Cases and Power Supplies)
Asus (Motherboards and video cards)
Hewlett Packard (Laptops, printers and monitors)
Linksys (Wireless adapters)
Logitech (Web cams)
Sony (DVD/CD Drives)
Wacom (Pen tablets)
Western Digital (Hard drives)
I've also developed several software packages for my job with Microsoft's Visual Basic.
Microsoft's Official Visual Basic Site
These links are to a pair of excellent sources of software and music.