Howdy, and welcome to APC! Starting a planted aquarium can be a GREAT experience, just don't let the road bumps get you down (algae, cloudy water, PATIENCE). There are many, many people here with tons of experience to share. The best advice I can give you is: Read everything you can get your hands/eyes on.
Yes, I know about the striped plants. They are dracenas, and I have taken them out and potted them up. They are sitting in my window today. I knew that when I bought them, and just wanted something cheap and quick to make the tank somewhat interesting. Here is a picture of the tank now:
Thanks for the comments. So far I am enjoying my time here. Nice to meet everyone.