I've been seeing Arduino offered in Radio Shack ads, but can't really find much information on the components or it's capabilities. For someone with some engineering and software development experience that just wants to toy with it, what would be a good selection of basic components to purchase? I'd like to start simple and gather some success but I can think of all sorts of things around the house I might do with it.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain
Depends what you're interested in doing, but I always recommend getting an LED blinking first, if you haven't. From there, you can actually get going with digital/analog sensors pretty quickly. For inspiration check out somewhere like Sparkfun, they might have some sensors you're interested in playing around with. They also have some Arduino "starter kits" which might be a good place to start, but in general, its always good to have a breadboard, some hookup wire, 10k resistors (typically needed for various analog sensors), 220ohm resistors (safe value for LEDs), and then some LEDs, buttons, and some analog sensors. Hope that helps!