SQL Data Access: Best Method to Learn for New VB2008 / VB2010 Users

I have used VB (versions 2 – 6) through many years; however, I am crash-course training myself into the VB2008 / VB2010 world kicking a screaming.  I would like suggestions as to what SQL database access method should I focus more on in my learning
process without making me feel that I’m a million years behind.  I know I have WinForms where I can create a datasourse and drag / drop fields or tables on a form to create a grid (not really what I’m looking for).  My trouble isn’t so much
designing the form but in how I access the database.  Theres XML, LINQ to SQL, ADO.NET, and many other methods.  Not only do I need to grasp these methods quickly but I also need to know what type of projects I should create.  What I mean is…I
was thinking that I would design a WinForm app; however, I see that there are WPF apps and others to chose from.  This is getting deep.  I know it depends on the project that I’m working on.  My plans are to write  an app based off of either
an SQL Express 2008 or SQL Server 2008 database.  This first app will be standalone for now but may later become multi-user.  I know I’m far behind on my learning curve coming from VB6.  I have read a bit on VB2005 / 2008 / 2010.  I own
both VB2008 and VB2010.  I use VB2008 at work.  I know ADO.NET is still alive but by what I read online, it’s a dying method and is only kept for backward compatibility.  XML and LINQ to SQL and other methods are all pretty new to me.  
I hope someone out here can not only point me in the right direction but be willing to spot me some easy to understand sample code.  Given my learning curve all help will be greatly appreciated.

I’m sure someone will correct me if I am wrong here, but I think that you can look at a “WinForm” app and ADO.Net as “foundation” development blocks.  Things like WPF and LINQ to SQL can be seen as alternate “higher level” ways of working with the exisiting