I'm exposed to Chinese (Mandarin) fairly frequently in my day-to-day life, and have been for the past 2.5 years, but have only made minimal progress in learning any, for some reason. I've been studying Japanese on my own for several years now, and have made extensive use of several nice computer-based Japanese resources, chief among them being EDICT in a local file which I use to look up words I come across online, and this site, which has a large number of example sentences and idioms. tgies also recommended me a book, A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, which I've been reading through slowly. And of course the English-speaking internet is full of people learning Japanese - I see tons of people discussing it in this very community. But what I can't seem to find are similar, well-known tools/communities/resources for Chinese, so...
Can anyone recommend me some good books (preferably easy to find), good computer programs (windows), firefox plugins, or whatnot that could help me to learn Chinese? Recently I've got Anki set up, and started using nciku as a dictionary, though it doesn't seem to be downloadable (unfortunately!) and is thus slow going. I also have this set as a bookmark search in firefox — replace "%s" with some chinese characters and it'll give you a chart showing their pronunciations and nominal denotations.
So, is there some sort of "official vocab list" I can work through, like how the JLPT corpora exist for Japanese? Is there some seminal must-read grammar of Chinese? A popular textbook series (preferably at least somewhat aimed towards a linguistics-acquainted reader)? Anything you know that might answer questions like these would be greatly appreciated. :)
EDIT: Er, totally missed this post, which partially answers my question (a book was recommended, and a website). Further information would be appreciated as well, though. :)