Well, c and c++ programming is like Visual basic in the sense that you design and compile your programs on the hard drive of your computer...you do not need to get external discs upon which to develop.
There are many good compilers out there, including many free ones, including some versions of Dev C++, GNU GCC, or even beta versions of the Visual C++ 2005.
Make sure you are downloading the Windows version (if you are on windows). I myself use VS8 2005, it is great, but i wouldn't suggest it for beginers. The one i would suggest for beginers is Dev-C++ (Download from HERE).
The snippets don't always work because they are not always complete code. They are designed to show off individual ideas and mechanisms inside larger programs. For instance the often show functions and how the interact with other sections of code.
Hey all, I am in this guys position. I do have a rough idea of programming and I do have a compiler, but I am having a rough tome with arrays and menus. To provide a rough background, I have been programming C for about 1 month in an online class. I find it very interesting and it is something I may persue.